The Brief: Sept. 11, 2014

Opinions differ as to whether the procedure would be allowed under an exemption for fetal abnormalities.

The Big Conversation

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis grabbed headlines this past week with the revelation in her new memoir that she had an abortion in 1997 after being advised by her doctor that the unborn daughter "would probably be deaf, blind, and in a permanent vegetative state.”

But as the Tribune's Jay Root reports, some are suggesting that someone in Davis' position today might not be able to have a legal abortion, thanks to the new restrictions on the procedure enacted by the Legislature last year.

The issue hinges on whether the circumstances fit a fetal abnormality exemption written into HB 2. The law, Root writes, "defines that fetal affliction as so serious that it’s 'incompatible with life outside the womb.' ... 'If a child could continue to live but be in a vegetative state, then this section would not apply,' said Joe Pojman, director of the anti-abortion group Texas Alliance for Life. 'If the child could continue to live after birth with all available medical treatment, then HB 2 would prevent an abortion.'”

The Davis campaign refused to discuss the hypothetical scenario and GOP gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott said simply that a severe fetal abnormality is covered by HB 2. An abortion rights advocate told Root, though, that no matter how the fetal abnormality exemption is applied, women in Texas would have a hard time getting the procedure because of the law's chilling effect on physicians.

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“'I’m not aware of anyone past 20 weeks who’ve done this. The clinics aren’t doing them. They’re already under the microscope,' said Heather Busbyexecutive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, an Austin-based abortion rights group. 'Most doctors are going to err on the side of 'I can’t risk this.' ”

The Day Ahead

•    The House Energy Resources Committee meets at 11 a.m. in Cuero to look at the implementation of SB 1747. (agenda)

•    The joint legislative panel on border wait times meets at 9 a.m. in El Paso to take invited testimony. (agenda)

Trib Must-Reads

Texplainer: What's State's Strategy in School Finance Case?, by Morgan Smith

What Cruz Effort to End Deferred Action Means for Texas, by Julián Aguilar

Cruz Won't Force Government Shutdown Over DACA, by Julián Aguilar

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Death Row Inmate Trottie Executed for 1993 Murders, by Terri Langford and Bobby Blanchard

Abbott Unveils New Health Policy Proposal, by Christine Ayala and Edgar Walters

Elsewhere

Wendy Davis critics question abortion story, decision, San Antonio Express-News

Ted Cruz beefs up campaign arm, Politico

Republicans question intent of candidate's comments, WFAA-TV

In terrorism battle, threat expands to homegrown extremists, Houston Chronicle

Number of young immigrants crossing southwest border plummets, Houston Chronicle

Big-name hospitals, retailers, clinics collaborate for cost control, The Dallas Morning News

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Texas presents case in federal trial over voter ID law, Austin American-Statesman

On Facebook, Nobody Knows You’re a Voter. Well, Almost Nobody., The New York Times

Quote to Note

"Would we have not built the transcontinental railroad … or the interstate highway system … because we were worried about climate change?"

— U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, R-Ennis, arguing against the EPA's Clean Power Plan, which is aimed at reducing carbon dioxide emissions

Today in TribTalk

Abbott may benefit from turn away from issues, by Joshua Blank and Jim Henson

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    The full program has been announced for the 2014 Texas Tribune Festival, Sept. 19-21.

Students at the Fest: Check out the full #TTFstudents program at the Tribune Festival featuring exclusive events, a private lounge and more. Register for just $50, or volunteer and attend for free!

•    A Conversation With U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, on Sept. 24 at the UTSA Downtown Campus in San Antonio.

•    A Conversation on Demographic Change and the Digital Divide with Mark Strama, former state representative and head of Google Fiber in Austin; state Rep. Larry Gonzales, R-Round Rock; Juanita Budd, executive director of Austin Free-Net; and Don Shirley, executive director of Connected Texas, on Sept. 30 at the LBJ School of Public Affairs in Austin.

•    A Conversation With Kathie Glass, 2014 Libertarian Nominee for Governor, on Oct. 2 at The Austin Club