A bill filed in the Texas Legislature’s special session would revoke the licenses of doctors who perform abortions in the state, with limited exceptions.
The measure, filed by far-right Representative Valoree Swanson, R-Spring, would expand the “prohibited practices” that result in a physician’s license being revoked, a category that already includes several abortion-related measures. Under House Bill 86, almost all abortions would be prohibited, with very narrow exceptions for the health of the woman and fetus: when necessary to save the life of the woman or prevent “substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function, other than a psychological condition,” or when the procedure is necessary to ensure the viability of another fetus she’s carrying.
Swanson’s “Texas Physician Abortion Ban” is one of several anti-abortion measures filed for consideration during the 30-day special session called by Governor Greg Abbott, which began Tuesday. Abbott included three anti-abortion measures on his list of 20 must-pass agenda items that failed in the regular session. Swanson’s legislation did not make the list, but critics still fear legislative maneuvers and loopholes could give anti-abortion proposals outside the agenda a chance to pass the Republican-controlled Lege.
At a Texas Tribune event Wednesday, Representative Matt Schaefer, R-Tyler, suggested that the sunset bill extending the operation of the Texas Medical Board “is a great vehicle for pro-life measures,” according to anti-abortion lobbyist Emily Horne.
While that bill failed, lawmakers did pass a sweeping anti-abortion measure requiring the cremation or burial of fetal remains and banning the most common form of second-trimester abortions. The law, known as Senate Bill 8, takes effect September 1 and could send people who tangentially assist women in getting these soon-to-be-illegal abortions to jail. Reproductive-rights advocates are preparing a legal challenge this summer.
“The time to end abortion is here,” Swanson told Breitbart in January. “As we approach the anniversary of the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade, it is clear from science that the Court erred 44 years ago. While that remains the law of the land at present, Texas should not be in the business of licensing and thus endorsing its practice.”