Yesterday, hearings were held at the Texas State Capitol for a slew of anti-abortion bills filed in both the House and Senate. Enacting anti-abortion legislation is a major priority for conservatives in Texas, even though a month ago millions of Texans lost power and water due to a devastating grid failure, and many are facing steep damages and energy costs.
One of the bills that was debated in the Senate Committee on State Affairs was SB 8, which State Sen. Bryan Hughes has dubbed “The Heartbeat Bill.” The legislation would ban abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected, which is often around six weeks. Often, many women don’t even realize they are pregnant at that time.
The Senate Committee did not allow for any public virtual testimony, even though the state is still in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Planned Parenthood Texas, all of the witnesses who were invited to testify in-person represented anti-choice organizations.
During the hearing about SB 8, Democratic State Sen. Beverly Powell noted that the legislation does not provide exceptions for rape or incest. Hughes responded that “little unborn children shouldn’t be punished for act[s] done to [the] mother.”
There is a companion bill to SB 8 that was filed in the House, HB 1515, by State Rep. Shelby Slawson. Last year she was endorsed by Texas Right to Life against former incumbent State Rep. J.D. Sheffield. Last week Slawson celebrated the end of the mask mandate repeal in a photo outside the Capitol. COVID-19 has killed more than 45,000 Texans.
Another bill that was debated in the Senate yesterday was SB 9, which would trigger a statewide abortion ban in the event the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade. The bill was introduced by State Sen. Angela Paxton.
In total, seven anti-choice bills were debated yesterday. In a statement following the hearings, Texas Democratic Party Vice Chair Carla Brailey chastised Texas Republicans for using up so much legislative time on anti-choice measures.
“Every person has the right to make decisions concerning their own body,” said Brailey.
“Abortion is health care. You can be sure that alongside our allies, Texas Democrats will fight tooth and nail to defend Texans’ right to reproductive health care. We are not going back.”
Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call