AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Texas Democrats originally left for Washington, D.C. to stop a Republican-led elections bill making its way through the legislature this special session, but some are also happy to derail other GOP priorities.
That includes Senate Bill 4, which would limit the use of medication abortion after seven weeks and prohibit the mailing of abortion medication altogether.
“It’s often also the more affordable option for Texas women,” Driftwood Democrat Erin Zwiener said from D.C. this week.
Republicans argued this week the mailing restriction will protect women’s health.
“An in-person ultrasound examination is critical, because the risk of dying from a medical abortion such as these increases by 38% for every week after eight weeks,” Dr. Jeffrey Irwin, a retired OB, argued in favor of the bill in committee this week.
He said mailing the pills will limit how much doctors can monitor their patients who take the medication.
But Democrats think the seven-week ban will push women who want the medication abortion to seek it elsewhere without medical supervision.
“This bill will push some women to seek black market options to receive the medication. And as always, our choice is not between abortion and no abortion. It’s between safe legal abortion or unsafe illegal abortion,” Rep. Zwiener said.
That could lead to further complications.
“If they want to protect the safety of women, then we need to have more robust prenatal care for women, and we need to have more robust health care for women before they get pregnant,” Rep. Zwiener said.
SB 4 passed on the Senate floor Friday but is now stalled, because the quorum is still broken in the House.
Senate Republicans are trying to entice Democrats to come back to Austin with other bipartisan legislation, like the bill that would grant an extra annual pension check to retired teachers or “13th check.”
“Unfortunately, ex-teachers are going to have to wait for that bonus, because there aren’t enough people over on the other side of this Capitol to pass that bill out,” State Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Grapevine, said Friday.
Democrats argued that bill should have passed during the regular session, but Republican leadership didn’t make it a priority then. Sen. Nelson said at that time, they didn’t have the money. With the comptroller’s latest revenue estimate, she said the extra check is now feasible this special session.