Bill adding abortion reporting requirements on path to governor's desk

A bill that would require physicians and health care facilities to report more details on abortion complications to the state — and fine those that do not comply — is all but certain to hit the governor's desk.   

State Rep. Giovanni Capriglione, R-Southlake, debates an amendment to House Bill 13 on July 27, 2017, as Rep. Tom Oliverson, R-Cypress, looks on. The bill would refine reporting requirements for abortion providers. 

Bob Daemmrich for the Texas Tribune

A bill that would require physicians and health care facilities to report more details on abortion complications to the state — and would fine those that do not comply — has now passed both chambers of the Texas Legislature.

The measure, which covers one of Gov. Greg Abbott's three abortion-related priorities, passed the Senate on a 22-9 vote Thursday. After a final vote in the Senate, it will head to the governor's desk.

(Update, Aug. 15: The bill was signed by Gov. Abbott.)

In abortion cases where complications arise, reporting to the state is already required. Under state Rep. Giovanni Capriglione’s House Bill 13, those requirements would get more strict: Physicians would have to submit reports to the state health commission within three days that include detailed information such as the patient’s year of birth, race, marital status, state and county of residence, and the date of her last menstrual cycle. Physicians and facilities that fail to comply with the reporting requirements would face a $500 fine for each day in violation.

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The bill's supporters say it's needed because reporting requirements on abortion are lacking. State Sen. Donna Campbell, who carried a similar measure in the Senate, called the state's current reporting procedures “sporadic and inefficient.”

“Collecting this data is important to guarantee best medical practices,” said Campbell, a New Braunfels Republican, during the Senate's debate on the legislation in late July. 

During debates in both chambers, Democrats attacked the measure. They echoed the concerns of reproductive rights advocates, who say it would violate the privacy rights of doctors and patients, and is an attempt to intimidate abortion providers. 

State Rep. Donna Howard, D-Austin, who unsuccessfully attempted to extend the time period for reporting complications during the House's debate on the bill, said the bill would place a regulatory burden on doctors who preform abortions for “no other reason than harassment.”

“It will do nothing to improve the health and wellbeing of women,” she said at the time.