Tribpedia: Abortion

Abortion — a medical procedure to terminate a pregnancy — was first outlawed in Texas during the 19th century. In 1961, Texas passed a law to imprison anyone who helped “procure an abortion” for a pregnant woman. The law excluded abortions necessary to protect the life of the mother, but included a clause to fine any “accomplice” who provided means to obtain an abortion. It also declared the death of a mother undergoing an abortion as murder.

In 1973, when Texas’ law was challenged, and ruled unconstitutional in the Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade, abortion became legal everywhere in the United States. In the years since, Texas lawmakers have filed bill after bill to restrict abortion in Texas, with mixed success. 

The Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade ruling was rooted in the due process clause, which is found in the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, and seeks to protect liberties that may be unconstitutionally restricted by government.

Opinions in the case said a woman’s right to choose must be balanced with the state’s interest in protecting prenatal life and the mother’s health. Therefore, it is only legal to perform an abortion during the early stages of pregnancy, before the fetus is viable — or could potentially live outside the woman’s womb.

Another Supreme Court Case, Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992), upheld the Supreme Court’s earlier ruling that, under due process, women should be allowed to terminate a pregnancy within the early stages. But it also opened the door for states to legally limit access to abortion, as long as the laws did not cause an “undue burden” on the pregnant woman.

During the 82nd legislative session, lawmakers are considering several GOP-backed abortion-sonogram bills they say provide women with “informed consent” before having an abortion. Gov. Rick Perry made the measure an emergency item.

Meanwhile, there are efforts afoot both nationally and in Texas to cut off federal and state funding for Planned Parenthood, which provides women's health services through government contracts, and offers abortions in some of its clinics. 

Images

State Rep. Donna Howard, D-Austin, is surrounded by fellow lawmakers as she speaks about Senate Bill 8, which would change how abortion providers handle fetal tissue, on May 19, 2017.
Amy Hagstrom Miller is the founder, president and CEO of Whole Woman’s Health.
Protestors of Texas' fetal remains burial rule gather outside the Governor's Mansion on Jan. 6, 2017. Health care providers, reproductive rights activists and anti-abortion groups attended a hearing on a proposed state rule that would require the cremation or burial of fetal remains. Austin rabbi testified against burial and cremation rule, citing "great potential" of infringing on religious liberty, at the public hearing held by Texas Department of State Health Services on August 4, 2016. State Rep. Mark Keough, R-The Woodlands, reads a letter to state health officials endorsing proposed rules on the burial of fetal remains. Pages from the state's proposed update to A Woman's Right to Know booklet Demonstrators celebrate at the U.S. Supreme Court after the court struck down HB2 in Washington, D.C. on June 27, 2016. Representatives of nonprofit groups that fund abortions meet in Austin to celebrate the Supreme Court's decision against the Texas law that limits abortion access on June 27, 2016. One of the surgery rooms at the Whole Woman's Health Surgical Center in San Antonio, Monday, March 18, 2013. An anti-abortion protester demonstrated outside the U.S. Supreme Court on June 27, 2016, before the court struck down two key provisions of a Texas abortion law. A protester holds up a sign in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on the morning the court takes up a major abortion case focusing on whether a Texas law that imposes strict regulations on abortion doctors and clinic buildings interferes with the constitutional right of a woman to end her pregnancy, in Washington March 2, 2016. Lead plaintiff Amy Hagstrom-Miller, president and CEO of Whole Woman's Health, smiles as she arrives to speak outside the U.S. Supreme Court after the court handed a victory to abortion rights advocates, striking down a Texas law imposing strict regulations on abortion doctors and facilities in Washington on June 27, 2016. Demonstrators celebrated at the U.S. Supreme Court on June 27, 2016, after the court struck down a Texas law imposing strict abortion regulations. Dr. Bernard Rosenfeld, 74, has not been able to find a successor to lead his abortion practice in Houston. He says younger doctors don't want to deal with the politics and protesters. Planned Parenthood clinic in Austin, Texas. Comedian Joan Rivers and Gov. Rick Perry Thousands of abortion opponents attended the Texas Rally for Life at the Capitol on Jan. 26, 2013, where speakers included Gov. Rick Perry, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and Houston Sen. Dan Patrick. A member of the McAllen Pregnancy Center hold pamphlets about unwanted pregnancies. She hands them out to patients entering Whole Woman's Health. Cadence King of Bryan stands at the gate of the now closed Bryan Planned Parenthood clinic. An abortion procedure room at the Whole Woman's Health ambulatory surgical center in San Antonio. Gov. Perry at Faith and Family Rally in 2013. Planned Parenthood clinical assistant Nicki Bailey discusses the new abortion laws with a patient in Austin. Two sonogram tools used at a Planned Parenthood clinic providing abortions in Austin. Sen. Dan Patrick R-Houston shakes hands with Rep. Sid Miller R-Stephenville after Gov. Rick Perry ceremonially signed HB 15 on May 24th, 2011 Gov. Perry ceremonially signs HB 15, which requires a woman to have a sonogram before an abortion. He is joined by Sen. Dan Patrick R-Houston and Rep. Sid Miller R-Stephenville on May 24th, 2011 Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston with Rep. Sid Miller R-Stephenville speak together if favor of HB 15, the abortion sonogram bill on May 4th, 2011 Rep. Sid Miller R-Stephenville speaks in favor of HB 15, the abortion sonogram bill on May 4th, 2011 Sen. Dan Patrick (l), R-Houston, listens to an amendment by Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, during the debate on HB15 on May 2, 2011. Sen. Leticia Van de Putte (l), D-San Antonio, debates an amendment to CSHB15 the abortion sonogram bill on May 2, 2011. State Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, listens to an amendment by Sen. Leticia van de Putte, D-San Antonio, during debate on CSHB15 on May 2, 2011. State Rep. Carol Alvarado, D-Houston, speaks to Planned parenthood supporters at the Capitol on March 8, 2011. Planned Parenthood supporters rally on the south steps of the Texas Capitol on March 8, 2011. Rep. John Zerwas, M.D. (R-Simonton) talks with a colleague about the sonogram bill HB15 on March 2, 2011. Author of HB15 Rep. Sid Miller (R-Stephenville) debates the sonogram bill on March 2, 2011 Rep. Carol Alvarado (D-Houston) holds a sonogram device on the House floor during debate on HB15 March 2, 2011 Rep. Wayne Christian (c) (R-Nacodoches) confers with Rep. Diane Patrick (r) during sonogram debate from the back mike on March 2, 2011. State Rep. Carol Alvarado, D-Houston, during the abortion sonogram bill debate on March 2, 2011. House Speaker Joe Straus talks to members prior to a debate on HB15 the sonogram bill on March 2, 2011 Rep. Sid Miller (R-Stephenville) works the floor prior to debate on HB15 on March 2, 2011 State Sen. Bob Deuell, R-Greenville, is in a Republican runoff to keep his seat. Sen. Dan Patrick (l) listens to pediatrician Dr. Scott Spear (c) and Dr. Margaret Thompson (r) at Senate State Affairs committee hearing on February 9, 2011. Round Rock physician Dr. Matt Romberg testifies before the Senate State Affairs Committee on February 9, 2011  Dr. Scott Spear, a pediatrician, testifies before the Senate State Affairs Committee on February 9, 2011 The Annual Texas Rally for Life at the Capitol on  January 22, 2011. Gov. Rick Perry, the keynote speaker at The Annual Texas Rally for Life at the Capitol on  January 22, 2011. Gov. Rick Perry as the keynote speaker at The Annual Texas Rally for Life at the Capitol on  January 22, 2011. Director Joe Pojman and staff at the Democratic Convention

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