What The Texas GOP Hopes No One Will Say Out Loud: Proposed Bills Weaken Inspections; Requirements Currently Kick In At 16-weeks

[UPDATED] Austin has become center stage for the religious conservative effort to reverse Roe v Wade. Many Texans, like Rep. Greg Bonnen (R), insist that they support these legislative proposals to insure access to safe medical procedures.

What they don’t acknowledge is the state of the current law.

Since January 1, 2004, Texas “law requires that all abortions at 16 weeks gestation or later be performed in an ambulatory surgical center.”

What was the impact of the law?

In the month the law went into effect, not one of Texas’s 54 non-hospital abortion providers met the requirements of a surgical center. The number of abortions performed in Texas at 16 weeks gestation or later dropped 88 %, from 3642 in 2003 to 446 in 2004.

The bills being considered in this second special session — bills which did not pass during the general session — would require all clinics performing abortions to be certified as ambulatory surgical centers.

Let’s see that again.

The current law requires that abortions after 16 weeks be performed in an ambulatory surgical center.

After the law changed in 2004, the number of abortions after 16 weeks that year dropped from 3,642 to 446.

This is the goal of the law. Not to ensure “safe medical procedures” but to stop access to abortion. To neuter Roe v Wade in the off-season (special session) because they couldn’t get the bill passed in the general.

What are the statistics that make the case for danger?

No women died while undergoing an abortion in 2011, however 116 women died of pregnancy complications that year.

And even though Governor Rick Perry asserted that abortions are the “second-most conducted surgical procedure” in America, they’re not according to PolitiFact research.

Because most abortions aren’t surgeries in the classic sense of surgery (no cutting) and many are induced by taking oral meds.

Dr. Barbara Levy, vice president of health policy for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and former medical director of the Women’s Health and Breast Center in Washington state, said by telephone that abortions are “minimally invasive” procedures, akin to colonoscopies, and do not involve surgical cutting unlike, say, hysterectomies. “We call these procedures, not surgeries,” Levy said. “I don’t even think it’s appropriate to talk about” abortion “as a surgical procedure.”

Moreover, the numbers should make you do a double-take. Because there aren’t that many abortions performed each year compared to other outpatient procedures/surgeries.

According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2009 there were 784,507 abortions in the United States. The Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive health research and policy analysis group, reports that there were 1.21 million in 2008; their numbers include California, Maryland and New Hampshire, which are not in the CDC data.

In a report issued in 2008 and revised in January 2009, the CDC reported that the nation’s most common outpatient surgeries in 2006 (the latest year with compiled estimates) included endoscopy of the largest intestine (5.7 million surgeries), meaning colonoscopy; endoscopy of the small intestine (3.5 million), meaning examinations through the mouth and throat; extraction of the lens (3.1 million); injection of prosthetic lens (2.6 million); and injection of an agent into the spinal canal (2 million). Its report said the leading diagnoses included cataracts (3 million) and benign and malignant growths (3.2 million). [emphasis added]

Second most common surgical procedure my sparklepony.

The risk of the medical procedure is extremely low and it’s not, as a general rule, a surgery.

So much for there being a public health issue that the bills would address.

Surely inspections will be more stringent under the current law?

Under the current law, abortion clinics are inspected annually.

Surgical centers, on the other hand, are inspected about every three years.

So much for making facilities “safer.”

 

No, this is a movement designed to restrict choice, to inject the state into the lives of women. Whether it’s vaginal ultrasounds or hurdles for clinics, these bills represent a patriarchal, Old Testament view of the world and a woman’s place in it, court rulings be damned.

No-spin reality doesn’t go down as easy as “we just want to make everything safer.”

Bollocks!

According to Bloomberg, so far this year, “17 states have enacted 45 new curbs on abortion.” Much of that effort comes from Americans United for Life (AUL), a Chicago advocacy group that prepares model legislation and has fought against legalized abortion since 1971.

One more stat and I’ll close. AUL wants to impose its minority position on the majority. For 40 years, most Americans have agreed that abortion is a decision best made by a woman in consultation with her doctor and partner. A distinct minority, less than 20%, has consistently told pollsters that they believe all abortion should be banned.

This 20% probably comes from the religious right and the heartland culture warriors, who account for about a quarter of the US population.

And they will continue to fight inch by inch until they’ve gotten their way. Along the way, expect contraception to fall victim as well.

The numbers and facts here will not ever convince that minority to rethink its position. But these facts might nudge their passive opposition into a vocal state. Because that’s what it’s going to take.

I’m convinced that the minority’s passion to ban all abortion far exceeds the majority’s passion for choice. So use facts like these to talk to your electeds — in Congress and the statehouse. Send a dispassionate letter or make a simply stated phone call. You don’t have to be an activist. But you do have to act.

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Updated 11.55 am Pacific to clarify surgical status of abortion.
Updated 12:30 pm Pacific with tweets below