In the News

Texas Governor Signs Another Law Restricting Access to Abortion

Saturday, June 13, 2015
Lori Fradkin
Cosmopolitan
Washington

This article was originally posted on Cosmopolitan.com

​Teens who don't want to get written permission from a parent to terminate a pregnancy now face additional hurdles in obtaining the procedure.

Just days after a federal appeals court upheld several key abortion restrictions in Texas law House Bill 2, a decision that may leave fewer than 10 clinics in the state, Governor Greg Abbott signed another law that will restrict abortion access for Texas women, particularly those under the age of 18.

Underage women in Texas already have to get written parental consent in order to have an abortion, but if they do not wish to inform their parents, they can seek what is called a judicial bypass, asking a court to grant them permission. (According to the Associated Press, about 300 to 500 Texas women use this process every year.) The new law, H.B. 3994, tightens the restrictions in several ways, including requiring any woman seeking an abortion in Texas to provide the proof of identity and age. It also requires teens seeking judicial bypass to appear in person before a court in their own county of residence (as opposed to any county in Texas as the previous law did), which might make them more identifiable in a small community, even though the law requires confidentiality. The new law also says the court should consider whether the woman is "mature and sufficiently well informed" to decide to have an abortion, but although the law previously said a court should consider whether notifying a parent would lead to emotional abuse, this passage has been removed in the current iteration.

"We must ensure that the judicial bypass process is used as intended, not frivolously but as a tool to protect minor victims from abuse," Texas senator Charles Perry, who sponsored the bill, said in a press release last month. "H.B. 3994 strengthens parental rights, protects minors, and reduces unlawful abortions."

The issue of presenting IDs is already controversial in Texas due to the state's voter ID law, which requires voters to show photo identification when voting in person. Critics have said this law discriminates against lower-income voters, who are less likely to have this form of ID or the means to obtain it. Opponents of this new abortion law have similar concerns.

"This latest policy would not only deny safe and timely care to young women, it would force every woman in Texas seeking an abortion to produce a specific form of ID or be turned away. The impact on rural, low-income, and immigrant Latinas, many of whom lack these forms of ID, will be devastating," Jessica González-Rojas, executive director of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, said in a statement.

Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, also expressed her opposition to this law.

"We all want our daughters to be safe — but the sad truth is some teens live in dangerous homes and can't go to their parents," she said in a statement. "This cruel law targets some of the state's most vulnerable young women. Make no mistake — the politicians behind this law are the same politicians that passed one of the most extreme abortion restrictions in the nation and that targeted access to free cancer screenings for low-income women."

The measure is scheduled to go into effect Jan. 1, 2016.