On September 24th, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott released two opinions concerning the practice of abortion in Texas. The opinions were in response to requests made by Pro-Life State Representative Frank Corte, a Republican legislator from San Antonio and friend of Texas Right to Life. The first question was whether an abortionist could use a prerecorded message or a one-way conference call to provide the legally required informed consent information to a woman before her abortion. The second question was whether a medical facility dispensing abortion drugs (to cause chemical abortions) is required to have an abortion facility license.
On the first question, General Abbott ruled a prerecorded message or a one-way conference call is insufficient to meet the legal requirements for informed consent before an abortion in Texas. For the past several years, abortion clinics in Texas have adopted the practice of referring women to a prerecorded telephone or video message which provides the required informed consent information. In addition to ending the practice of the prerecorded informed consent, this ruling will prevent a trend in the abortion industry called “telemed abortions,” which occur when a doctor prescribes an abortion drug via teleconference to woman in a remote clinic. Once the abortionist has narrated the informed consent information, he remotely opens a drawer in front of the woman by which the abortion drug is presented to her.
Secondly, yet certainly related, the Attorney General ruled that a medical clinic must have an abortion facility license to prescribe and administer abortion drugs, recognizing that the statutory definition of abortion encompasses chemical abortions (such as RU486). In the opinion, Abbott clarified that the prescription or provision of any drug with the intent to end a pregnancy qualifies as providing an abortion according to the definition in Texas law.
Although this ruling would appear unnecessary, several family planning clinics in San Antonio were caught providing RU486 without abortion licenses. After being temporarily shut down and fined by the Texas Department of State Health Services, the clinics claimed that chemical abortions do not require the additional abortion facility licenses. At the least, this clarification from the Attorney General will hold the dispensing of abortion drugs to the same medical standards as other abortion procedures in Texas.
Texas Right to Life applauds both of these timely decisions from the Attorney General. While current Texas law protects the health of women and strengthens Texas families in some ways, the clarification of these Pro-Life laws is crucial. Rulings like these are necessary to ensure that the intent of Pro-Life laws is followed and enforced across Texas.