Last night people around the country were riveted by Sen. Wendy Davis (D- Fort Worth) and her filibuster against Texas Senate Bill (sb5). This bill would have resulted in legislation that dangerously interferes with the practice of medicine, could risk the lives of women, and would essentially limit abortion to 5 clinics in the state.
Many other’s have weighed in on the medically dangerous aspects of the bill and on the egregious entry of the Texas government into the doctor-patient relationship, but I want to focus on the filibuster, specifically the last warning for straying off topic. (Just to catch you up, during a filibuster in Texas if you stray off topic 3 times then the senate can vote on the bill).
At 10:07 Sen. Donna Campbell (R) voiced objection that Wendy Davis was discussing a 2011 law that involved mandatory fetal ultrasound. Lt. Gov. Dewhurst ruled Harris out of order agreeing that mandatory ultrasounds were not in any way germane to sb5.
This 3rd waning is an extremely important point because both Donna Campbell and Lt. Gov. Dewhurst are wrong. Texas Senate Bill 5 specifically stated that in order to carry through a medical abortion a physician must document the “intrauterine location of the pregnancy” (sec. 171.043). As an OB/GYN I read that as requiring an ultrasound. The 2011 law that Harris was referencing is the “Texas Women’s Right to Know Act,” also requires a mandatory ultrasound before abortion:
“The law also requires that you receive a sonogram from the doctor (or agent) who will be performing your abortion at least 24 hours before the abortion is to occur. If you live more than 100 miles away from the nearest abortion provider, you can waive this requirement, but you will still be required to have a sonogram by the doctor performing the abortion. It will need to occur at least 2 hours before the abortion, rather than 24 hours before.”
Since the Women’s Right to Know law and sb5 are both about the practice of medicine as it pertains to abortion and both contain mandatory ultrasound legislation it’s hard to see how they are anything but intertwined in the most incestuous way. So yes, they are germane to each other.
It is important to note that medical studies do not indicate that a pre-procedure ultrasound increases the safety of a medical abortion. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists are also against mandatory ultrasounds before abortion.
The 3rd warning in last night’s filibuster indicates that Dewhurst et. al. don’t care to understand the laws they have passed or the ones they hope to pass and are willing to break filibuster rules to try to ram a dangerous bill through to law. I hope some legal scholar can tell me that there is some way to hold Dewhurst accountable.
It’s clearly all about passing anti-abortion legislation in the hopes of shoring up fundraising dollars and nothing about health care for women. If Dewhurst and his cronies actually cared about life and women’s health they’d do something for the 31% of women in Texas who have no health insurance.