Dewhurst Tweet on Abortion Bill Raises Eyebrows

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst listens to Sen. Tommy Williams, R-The Woodlands, during the Senate session on April 2, 2013.
Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst listens to Sen. Tommy Williams, R-The Woodlands, during the Senate session on April 2, 2013.

A tweet by Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst that uses an advertisement by a reproductive rights group to praise the Senate’s approval of abortion restrictions late Tuesday evening has raised eyebrows. 

“We fought to pass SB5 thru the Senate last night, & this is why! #StandWithTXChildren #txlege,” Dewhurst tweeted alongside an image produced by Planned Parenthood’s “Stand With Texas Women” campaign that states, “If SB5 passes, it would essentially ban abortion statewide.”

Dewhurst’s tweet confirmed that the goal of Senate Bill 5 was to close women’s health clinics, Glenn Smith, the director of Progress Texas PAC, a left-leaning policy group, said in an email to the Tribune.*

 

“He used a pro-choice graphic about the number of clinics that would have to close to make his point that the closing was his goal all along,” Smith said.

After the Tribune published this story, Dewhurst tweeted, "I am unapologetically pro-life AND a strong supporter of protecting women's health. #SB5 does both."

“My objective first and foremost, second and third, is to raise the standard of care,” said state Sen. Glenn Hegar, R-Katy, the author of SB 5, during Tuesday's debate.

SB 5 includes three abortion regulation measures that failed to reach the floor of either chamber during the regular legislative session: a requirement that abortions be performed in ambulatory surgical centers, a requirement that doctors who perform abortions have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the abortion facility, and a requirement that if doctors administer the abortion inducing drug, RU-486, they do so in person.

Thirty-seven of the state’s 42 abortion facilities would not meet the surgical facility standards required by the bill, and the Senate rejected a measure to exempt drug-induced abortions from the surgical facility requirement.

“Truly, this isn’t about making women safe,” state Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, said during the Senate’s debate on the legislation. She highlighted legislative testimony by medical experts, such as the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, who argued that the abortion regulations in SB 5 would endanger women by requiring the use of outdated medical protocols and decreasing access to legal abortion services. “It’s about political primaries and making sure you’re feeding the red meat of the people who will be voting in those primaries,” she said.

*This story has been edited to correct Glenn Smith's position at Progress Texas PAC.

 

Texas Tribune donors or members may be quoted or mentioned in our stories, or may be the subject of them. For a complete list of contributors, click here.