Two GOP-backed anti-abortion bills passed the Texas Senate on Monday — one that would prevent parents from suing doctors if their baby is born with a birth defect and another that would require doctors to make sure a fetus is deceased before performing a certain type of abortion. 

State Sen. Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe, answers questions about Senate Bill 25 on March 20, 2017.
State Sen. Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe, answers questions about Senate Bill 25 on March 20, 2017. Marjorie Kamys Cotera for The Texas Tribune

Sen. Brandon Creighton's Senate Bill 25, a "wrongful births" bill designed to prevent doctors from encouraging abortions to avoid lawsuits, passed 21-9. Creighton said without it, doctors have "an invitation to be sued for just practicing medicine" and might not want to work in the state. 

"We're talking about promoting an environment where the best physicians in America will want to practice medicine in Texas," he said.

Opponents have argued the measure would encourage doctors to withhold information from parents about an unborn child's disability. Sen. José Rodríguez, D-El Paso, said the legislation "seems to be about restricting and further limiting a woman's right to exercise her choice about what she's going to do in the case of serious defects to the fetus."

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Sen. Charles Perry's Senate Bill 415 bans "dilation and evacuation" abortions — the most common second-trimester procedure, where doctors use surgical instruments to grasp and remove pieces of fetal tissue — while the fetus is still alive. That bill, which supporters say would end the "barbaric" practice they call "dismemberment abortions," also passed 21-9. 

Abortion rights advocates say Perry’s bill would remove the safest way to perform the procedure on a pregnant woman. Reproductive rights groups say the bill would subject women to another unnecessary medical procedure.

 Amanda Allen, senior state legislative counsel at the Center for Reproductive Rights, said in a news release that Texas lawmakers "need to abandon their crusade against women’s dignity and focus on measures that actually improve the lives and health of women and their families."

Her organization has challenged similar measures in federal court in Louisiana, Kansas and Oklahoma, preventing them from taking effect. 

Read related Tribune coverage:

  • Texas Democrats and abortion rights advocates are strategizing amid mounting worries over what the GOP-led Legislature and federal lawmakers may do in the coming months to further restrict access to the procedure.
  • Reproductive rights advocates have expressed concern that Texas lawmakers will take bolder steps in the upcoming session to defund abortion providers and dismantle access to abortion, birth control and other sexual health services. 
  • U.S. District Court Judge Sam Sparks ruled Texas cannot require health providers to bury or cremate fetuses, delivering another blow to state leaders in the reproductive rights debate. 
  • After three days of testimony from attorneys for the state and Planned Parenthood, U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks is letting the reproductive health provider stay in Medicaid until Feb. 21.