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Although abortion is the most common yet potentially dangerous surgery in America, abortion is still the most under-regulated and under-inspected industry in America. Many states, and even New York City, have requirements that abortionists and abortion facilities report their statistics to the state health departments, not only for public safety reasons, but also for socio-cultural and demographic insights about abortion and how to shape outreach efforts to women who are abortion vulnerable.
Abortion reporting in Texas is not enforced by state law, and many legislators, particularly Representative Matt Schaefer (R-Tyler), Representative Bill Zedler (R-Arlington), and Representative Geanie Morrison (R-Victoria), have worked to pass abortion reporting requirements for several legislative sessions. With the help of Texas Right to Life, these legislators have proposed bills and amendments that mirror reporting laws already passed in other states. Oddly, the abortion lobby and legislators who support that lobby oppose such anonymous data collection; apparently, raw numbers on abortion pose some unknown threat to unmitigated “choice.”
Last week on the floor of the Texas House of Representatives, Pro-Life amendments were offered to HB 2510, a bill to reorganize and reauthorize the Department of State Health Services, called “DSHS” or informally “Dishes.” These types of agency bills are called “sunset bills,” meaning the legislature decides whether to reauthorize an agency or to send the agency off to the sunset by closing the agency. Representative Schaefer withstood immense pressure from some in House leadership to withdraw his amendments to HB 2510 that strengthened abortion reporting requirements. He did not wince, and his amendment overwhelmingly passed.
Schaefer’s second amendment to HB 2510 would have corrected a tragic loophole in some of the state’s Pro-Life laws that allows the abortion of a preborn child with suspected abnormalities. Representative Schaefer passionately spoke about how he was defending those who are voiceless, those who are the most vulnerable, and he was persecuted—even by some of his colleagues who self-identify as Pro-Life. This amendment also passed but consequently drew the ire of legislators who advocate abortion, and then used a procedural move to stop HB 2510 from being considered any further.
Through the reporting requirement amendment to HB 2510, abortionists – rather than abortion mill staff – would have been tasked with reporting their own abortion activity to the state. Vastly improving current reporting laws, the Schaefer amendment mandated that, in addition to annual reports, monthly reports be submitted by any abortionist who has committed one or more abortion in the preceding calendar month. DSHS would also have been instructed to establish and to maintain a confidential, electronic reporting system to facilitate the new requirements. DSHS would have also published a report of the aggregate data collected from all of the reports on a monthly basis.
If an abortionist fails to submit his or her monthly report by the 15th day of the month, DSHS would have been authorized to file a complaint with the Texas Medical Board (TMB), the entity that fields and investigates complaints and compliance of licensed physicians. Like the reporting laws in other states, patient confidentiality is the cornerstone of this legislation, and the patients’ names would not be publicized on the reports. In fact, penalties are built into such policies for any breach in confidentiality.
Anonymous demographic and socioeconomic insights into abortion choices can only lead to better efforts to empower women to continue their pregnancies, rather than leaving them feeling alone and isolated at unsafe abortion clinics.