OB-GYN group criticizes Texas abortion bills - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

OB-GYN group criticizes Texas abortion bills

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(RNN) - A nonprofit organization of women's healthcare providers denounced abortion bills under consideration in Texas as a form of legislative overreach on the medical rights of women.

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists stated in a news release Tuesday that Senate Bill 1 and House Bill 2 "are plainly intended to restrict the reproductive rights of women in Texas through a series of requirements that improperly regulate medical practice and interfere with the patient-physician relationship."

The ACOG is the nation's leading group of physicians providing healthcare for women.

"The Texas bills are a compilation of over-reaching measures to control when, where, and how a woman has an abortion," said ACOG Texas District Chair Lisa M. Hollier. "The bills are not based on sound science, despite our efforts to provide the Legislature with the best available medical knowledge. The bills would erode women's health by denying the women of Texas the benefits of well-researched, safe and proven protocols."

The Texas Medical Association and the Texas Hospital Associations also oppose the bills being debated in the Texas Legislature at the behest of Republican Gov. Rick Perry.

Perry called a second special session, which started Monday after the abortion bills failed to pass in the filibuster-stymied first special session.

"I am calling the Legislature back into session because too much important work remains undone for the people of Texas," Perry said in a statement, according to the Associated Press. "Texans value life and want to protect women and the unborn."

Abortion is one of the safest medical procedures, ACOG stated, with fewer than 0.5 percent of abortions involving major complications. This fact hasn't stopped legislatures in several states from passing or debating laws to add new restrictions to the procedure.

Targeted Regulations of Abortion Providers (TRAP) laws are in place in 27 states, but legal challenges have held up many of these measures.

Laws that single out abortion providers don't make "an already-safe procedure safer, but instead aim to make abortion care less accessible," according to the Guttmacher Institute, a nonprofit organization that works to advance reproductive health and abortion rights.

In addition to Texas, North Carolina is considering abortion restrictions. Members of the Senate GOP there attached abortion-related provisions to an unrelated bill Tuesday night. It passed in a 27-14 vote that same evening, according to WBTV in Charlotte, NC.

Opponents said the bill, which could close almost all abortion clinics in North Carolina, would severely limit the rights of women to obtain an abortion. There are 16 licensed abortion clinics in the state but only one ambulatory surgical center that performs the procedure, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

Among its stipulations, the North Carolina bill would prohibit gender-selective abortions, restrict abortion insurance coverage and require a physician's presence during an entire surgical abortion and when a woman takes an abortion-inducing drug.

Other states have passed similar legislation.

Earlier this week, Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed a budget into law that included a number of abortion restrictions added at the last minute by Ohio Republicans.

North Dakota in March passed some of the most restrictive abortion measures in the nation, banning abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, banning the procedure in case of genetic abnormalities and requiring abortion providers to have admitting privileges in hospitals, according to American Medical News.

Opponents said the North Dakota restrictions would also end in vitro fertilization and the ability of physicians to treat serious conditions such as ectopic pregnancies, the American Medical News said.

"It's treating this type of procedure differently than other types of procedures," said Courtney Koebele, the North Dakota Medical Association executive director. "There are plenty of procedures that are done outside the hospital that could be considered surgery."

North Dakota's laws, scheduled to take effect Aug. 1, are also currently being challenged in court.

In a statement, North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple said he anticipated the legal challenges, as the laws were designed as attempts "to discover the boundaries of Roe v. Wade."

The lawmakers expect legal challenges and provided funding to fight them. According to the Pew Charitable Trusts, lawmakers in North Dakota gave the state attorney general $400,000 to defend the abortion laws.

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