Texas Rep. Matt Schaefer's Anti-Abortion Amendment Would Be One Of The State's Most Horrifying Measures Yet
The Texas House of Representatives has just five weeks left in this session, and on the drawing board for its final weeks is a provision that could seriously harm women enduring complicated late-term pregnancies. Last Thursday, Texas State Rep. Matt Schaefer (R-Tyler) filed an amendment that would ban abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy even when the fetus has a severe abnormality, RH Reality Check reported. Yes, that could potentially mean forcing a patient to carry a non-viable fetus to term.
Schaefer's amendment was tacked onto an unrelated bill reauthorizing the Department of State Health Services. Although the amendment narrowly passed the House, the entire bill was sent back to the committee because of the extreme provision. It's a small victory, yet the fact that this amendment was laid forth — and successfully passed by Texas legislators — should probably not be celebrated just yet.
Texas currently bans abortions at 20 weeks post-fertilization, which is technically the 22th week of pregnancy when calculating from last menstrual period — the method ob-gyn's commonly use to date pregnancies. Under current law, a pregnant patient can receive a late-term abortion when the fetus has a severe abnormality or defect, or when the patient's life and physical or mental health is at risk.
If Schaefer's amendment is ever enacted, women would be forced to give birth to non-viable fetuses, who would likely die shortly after birth or even result in a stillbirth. It's unclear at this time if the measure would have also applied to situations where the fetus has died in utero during the second or third trimesters.
"Why should the heavy hand of government come into that most heart-rending decision?" State Rep. J.D. Sheffield, a Republican and family physician opposed to the provision, said during the floor debate last week. According to The Dallas Morning News, Sheffield considered the proposal "unethical" for women and their pregnancies.
But perhaps the fiercest opposition came from state Rep. Jessica Farrar (D-Houston), who told her fellow colleagues that she was disgusted by the endless displays of misogyny she has seen on the House floor. "Women are leaders of their families, whether some men in this room do not recognize that," Farrar said during the floor debate last week. She called the "level of misogyny" she has witnessed during this House session, "worse than any other session."
Farrar's full speech on the proposed amendment can be viewed below.
Images: Whole Women's Health Baltimore