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House Legislator Plans to Bring Back "Preborn Pain" Bill

State Rep. Jodie Laubenberg, R-Parker, said she hopes to reintroduce a ban on abortions after 20 weeks of gestation if her legislation passes this weekend.

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State Rep. Jodie Laubenberg, R-Parker, said she hopes to add a ban on abortions after 20 weeks of gestation back to Senate Bill 5, the Senate's omnibus abortion bill, if her companion measure, House Bill 60, passes this weekend.

The key provision of HB 60 is the 20-week ban, also known as "preborn pain" legislation, which was removed from SB 5 during Senate deliberations Tuesday evening. State Sen. Glenn Hegar, R-Katy, the bill's author, said he removed the provision because he thought it would give the bill a greater chance of passing.

The House Committee on State Affairs will hear testimony on HB 60 Thursday afternoon.

If the bill is voted out of committee, the full House would likely debate it this weekend. The legislative special session ends Tuesday, which means all bills must be voted on in both chambers by then. 

Laubenberg said she would like to send a 20-week ban "back into the Senate" if HB 60 passes the House. She added that she believed the Senate would be receptive to adding the ban back into the legislation.

The 20-week ban on abortions is based on arguments by some that fetuses begin to feel pain after 20 weeks of gestation. Research indicates fetuses respond to stimuli at that point, but there is no medical consensus on whether that means they feel pain. Currently, abortions are legal until 24 weeks of gestation.

The ban has drawn comparisons to an Arizona law that also banned abortions after 20 weeks. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down that law, concluding it violated the precedent established in the 1973 case Roe v. Wade.

HB 60 also would require abortion facilities to meet the same care standards as ambulatory surgical clinics. That provision — which passed the Senate on Tuesday evening — has drawn criticism from abortion rights groups, which say it would leave no more than five abortion clinics open in Texas, because most clinics would not have the funds to meet the standards.

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst spurred controversy Wednesday when he posted a tweet indicating that he supported SB 5 because it would leave only five facilities capable of performing abortions.

But Laubenberg said she did not believe that most abortion clinics would have to shut down if HB 60 becomes law. Rather, she said, she thinks clinics will be able to find the money to reach ambulatory clinic standards. 

Aman Batheja contributed to this report.

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