Thursday morning, after hearing public testimony, the Department of State Health Services Council refused to vote on new rules that would instruct how abortion facilities are to adhere to portions of the recently passed House Bill 2—the Pro-Life omnibus bill that passed in the special session of the 83rd Legislature.
Though there are four main parts to the law, Department of State Health Services (DSHS) is responsible for writing, implementing, and enforcing rules on two regulatory provisions. The first is how abortion clinics are to meet the same health and safety standards of ambulatory surgical centers, and the second is to clarify the requirements abortion doctors who now must secure admitting privileges at a nearby hospital.
The wording of HB 2 is very clear on how the law is to be enforced and how abortion centers and abortionists are to comply. Yet, Planned Parenthood staged and prepped witnesses to ask the council to add “waivers, grandfather clauses, and to delay implementation” to the rules to undermine and weaken the legislature’s intent.
The DSHS Council, a board of nine appointed members who serve six-year terms, acknowledged that authorizing such exemptions falls outside the jurisdiction of that board.
After final testimony was heard, Council Member Rev. William Lovell made a motion to adopt the rules. However, in what the DSHS press secretary called an “unusual and unexpected” move, the other eight members of the council refused to second the motion; thus, no vote occurred.
Since the council refused to vote on the rules, the Executive Commissioner of the Health and Human Services Commission will now determine if he should sign the rules (as stated in the law), modify the rules, or reject the rules. This so-called unusual inaction of the council could serve as a basis to try to weaken the rules.
The council members are lower level bureaucrats and are not voted into their positions by the people of Texas. Yet, they have willfully undermined the will of members of the Legislature, and the Texans who elected the members of the Legislature, by withholding support for the proper enforcement of the Pro-Life law.
Before the Executive Commissioner signs the rules, a 30-day public comment period is required. Pro-Life advocates need to reaffirm that protecting pregnant women and preborn children is too important to leave in the hands of unelected activist bureaucrats.
Texas Right to Life will alert Pro-Life Texans when the public comment period begins through TexasRightToLife.com.