Abortion Fight In Texas Almost Ends In An Actual Fist-Fight, As The State Moves On More Abortion Restrictions

This is what we have come to in America: a few men in Texas almost throwing punches over restricting a woman's access to abortion. A controversial bill in Texas banning insurance coverage for abortion almost didn't make it to a full vote on Sunday following a heated exchange between two that nearly ended in a fist-fight, according to the Houston Chronicle. The measure will now be taken up in a full vote on Tuesday, hours after state legislators moved to table the controversial bill.

The Houston Chronicle reports that Rep. Johnathan Stickland, who is staunchly anti-abortion, got into an argument Sunday night with Rep. Byron Cook after the bill, which would block women from using insurance plans sold through the Affordable Care Act marketplace on abortions, died in the House Calendars Committee. Tuesday is the last day the Texas House can conduct a full vote on the bill, and so this was, essentially, the legislators' last chance to move on this abortion measure.

The newspaper categorized the argument between Stickland and Cook as an emotional and angry verbal exchange that may have turned violent if security officials didn't intervene. Stickland had to be escorted from the room.

Cook explained to the Houston Chronicle that it boiled down between a misunderstanding between the two men — Stickland was pushing for the ban on insurance coverage to pass, or else he would file an amendment on a separate to ban abortions for fetal anomalies, even when the fetus has no chance of surviving. "My commitment was to get the [insurance] bill to Calendars," Cook told the newspaper. "What I can't do is interfere with other members' ability to vote their conscience."

Stickland has not made any public comments about the confrontation at this time.

In a strange twist, the insurance-coverage ban was revived some hours later, and the House Calendars Committee decided to reverse its decision without the presence of the legislators who originally voted against the bill. The bill is now going to be taken up by the full House for a vote. If it passes, Texas will become the 26th state to prohibit insurance exchanges from covering abortion services, according to research from the Guttmacher Institute. Currently, 10 states go even further by blocking private insurance plans written in the state from covering abortion.

The Texas bill has come under fire for not including any exemptions for rape or incest victims, or for women who are terminating pregnancies because of severe fetal anomalies. "Many things can happen in pregnancy that are beyond a person’s control, so it’s important to make sure everyone has coverage for the health care they may need,” Heather Busby, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, said last week in a statement. "It is wrong for politicians to single out a legal medical procedure just because they are personally opposed to it."

Texas legislators are currently mulling over yet another controversial abortion bill — one that would have required all women seeking abortion to present a government-issued ID. That bill, which is currently in the Texas Senate, was revised over the weekend to remove the ID requirement, which critics have contended is not only unconstitutional, but may be another barrier for women. No other state requires women to show an ID when obtaining an abortion.

Although doctors could still perform an abortion without a woman presenting an ID under this revised bill, doctors would still be required to report how many abortions they perform each year on women without "proof" of age or identity.

Image: Whole Woman's Health Baltimore (1)