Texas Senate Bill 5
Texas Senate Bill 5 (or Texas SB 5) is a bill that was created on June 11, 2013, and was discussed during the First Special Session of the Eighty-third Texas Legislature and was signed into law by Governor Rick Perry on July 18, 2013.
Texas Senate Bill 5 is a list of measures that would amend and add to abortion regulations in Texas. These measures include a ban on abortion at 20 weeks post-fertilization and recognize that the state has a compelling interest to protect fetuses from pain. The bill would mandate that a doctor who performs abortions have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital, and to require that clinics meet the same standards as other surgical health-care facilities in the state. Another provision would require oversight of women taking abortion-inducing drugs such as RU-486. The bill would not apply to abortions necessary to save the mother's life or to prevent permanent bodily damage from a pregnancy.
First Special Session
On June 25, 2013, Senator Wendy Davis began a filibuster in attempt to block the bill by maintaining the floor until midnight, when the Senate's special session ended, after which the state Senate would no longer be able to vote on the measure. After ten hours, Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst ruled that Davis had gone off topic after Davis began talking about a sonogram bill, forcing a vote on whether the filibuster could continue. Despite efforts to pass the bill, parliamentary enquiries from Leticia R. Van de Putte and other senators, as well as disruption from the gallery caused the session to go on through midnight, the official closure of the special session. Following the deadline, Republicans indicated that a vote had taken place and passed 19–11, while Democrats declared that the vote had taken place after midnight, making the vote void. Dewhurst later conceded that the bill was passed after the deadline and was considered dead.
After the bill was thought to have been passed, a record was added to the official web page on the history of the bill. According to the page, the timestamp of the bill's passage was listed as the 26th. Later, the page was taken down and altered to say that the bill was passed on the 25th. According to Texas Penal Code, Section 37.10, it is a crime to make an alteration that is false in a government document or record. According to the Legislative Reference Library of Texas the Texas Legislature Online system "... is not the official record of those actions, and [the Legislative Reference Library staff] enters actions on TLO as a public service independently of the officers of the house or senate." The Public Integrity Unit has begun an investigation into the events after receiving complaints.
Second Special Session
On the 26th, Governor Rick Perry added the bill as part of three bills in a second special session, with the name Senate Bill 2. Perry stated that it was due to the "[...] breakdown of decorum and decency to prevent us from doing what the people of this state hired us to do."
The second session began on July 1, with supporters and opponents of the bill showing up in large crowds at the Texas Legislative building while wearing blue or orange shirts in support of their respective sides.
The Texas House passed the bill on July 10, 2013, by a 96–49 margin and sent the measure to the Texas Senate.
The bill was eventually passed by both the House and the Senate in the July 2013 second special session and was signed by Gov. Rick Perry, prompting one commentator to state that "Wendy Davis won the battle, but Rick Perry won the war."
Organizations and people on both sides used websites like Twitter and the Texas Tribune to share their side and learn more, with several hashtags becoming popular on Twitter. Coverage and a livestream of the Texas Legislature by the Texas Tribune has been said to have been the reason that the bill became national, and later international, news.
Psychedelic rock band The Bright Light Social Hour were in the gallery during Senator Davis's filibuster of the first special session. The following morning the band released the song "Wendy Davis," based on the chants of the protesting crowd. The song was accompanied by a video made with protest footage taken from the band's phones, which was featured in MSNBC's coverage of the event.
Images of the placard carried by pro-choice activists Billy Joe Cain, his daughter Tuesday, with the message "JESUS isn't a DICK; so keep him OUT of MY VAGINA!" went viral, the resultant controversy was reported nationally and internationally.
Many people who are against the bill have opposed the requirement that would force clinics to follow the same standards as surgical centers, since it could lead to the closure of the clinics and result in large areas of the state to not have access to a clinic. Many major medical groups such as the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Family Physicians, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists argue that this bill is damaging to women's health by closing clinics and adding undue obstacles and medical expenses that can push abortions into the second trimester. Supporters of the legislation have stated that the purpose of the new law is to protect women’s health and unborn children, citing precedents like the recent Kermit Gosnell case.
Abortion access in the state of Texas has seen a serious decline since the passage of Senate Bill 5. There were 44 facilities that performed abortions in Texas in 2011, When the law is fully implemented in September, that number is expected to drop to six. Amy Hagstrom Miller, the chief executive of Whole Woman’s Health, which has challenged provisions of the law in court. "I tried everything I can. I just can’t keep the doors open.”
A 2017 National Bureau of Economic Research paper used the legislation to identify the effects of abortion access. The study found that "as the distance to the nearest abortion provider increases from less than 25 miles to 25-50 miles, there is little change in rates of legally induced abortions. But an increase to 50-100 miles reduces legal abortion rates by 16 percent, an increase to 100-200 miles reduces abortion rates by 32 percent, and an increase to 200 or more miles reduces abortion rates by 47 percent. We also introduce a proxy for congestion that predicts additional reductions in abortion rates as fewer clinics serve more women."
Another 2017 National Bureau of Economic Research paper found that "In-state abortions fell 20% and births rose 3% in counties that no longer had an abortion provider within 50 miles. Births increased 1% and contraceptive purchases rose 8% in counties without a publicly-funded family planning clinic within 25 miles."
A 2016 study interviewed 23 women in Texas who had sought abortions at clinics that were no longer providing such services, and found that because of the clinic closures caused by the law, women became confused about where to obtain abortion services. The same study found that most of the women interviewed had to spend more money and time to obtain abortion services, and that their privacy was compromised by having to travel further than they previously had to. Another 2016 study by the same research team found that Texas women whose nearest clinic closed had to travel on average 85 miles to have abortions, while women whose nearest clinic did not close had to travel an average of 22 miles.
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After the law was passed, a group of abortion providers filed suit in the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas seeking an injunction preventing enforcement of the admitting-privileges provision as applied to physicians at two abortion facilities, one operated by Whole Woman’s Health in McAllen and the other operated by Nova Health Systems in El Paso. They also sought an injunction prohibiting enforcement of the surgical-center provision statewide. In August 2014, the District Court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs and issued the sought injunction. In October, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit stayed the injunction. Two weeks later, the Supreme Court vacated the stay, allowing the injunction to take effect during Texas's appeal of the district court's ruling. On June 9, 2015, the Court of Appeals unanimously overturned the lower court's ruling, finding that neither abortion restriction placed an undue burden on women as mandated in Planned Parenthood v. Casey. Later that month, the Supreme Court stayed the Fifth Circuit's ruling by a 5-4 vote, preventing the restrictions from being enforced once again. On June 27, 2016, the Supreme Court ruled 5-3 that the Texas abortion restrictions are unconstitutional, striking down the majority of the law.
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