Republicans in Texas’ House applauded Saturday as they passed severe new restrictions on abortions, specifically banning a second-trimester procedure known as dilation and evacuation.
The limits, tacked on to Senate Bill 8, also mandate the burial or cremation of fetal remains from abortions. That requirement would cost thousands of dollars per abortion and flies in the face of a federal judge’s ruling suspending an already existing state rule over the same issue, the Associated Press reported.
The provisions passed the Texas House by a vote of 93-45 on Saturday, and the entire anti-abortion SB8 heads back to the state Senate for review and likely approval.
During a six-hour legislative debate on Friday, Democratic Rep. Donna Howard broke down in tears while arguing against the limits, which she described as an “extremely emotional and very personal subject for all of us,” the Austin-American Statesman reported.
“We can sit here self-righteously and decide that we always know best for every person, but we do not. We do not,” Howard said in a particularly gut-wrenching speech before the legislature. “Because we want women who are in desperate situations to be able to make the choice for their own bodies and their own families, and to do it in a safe way.”
The House measures also ban the sale or donation of fetal tissue, a non-issue that already is outlawed by federal law. This specific ban comes in the wake of discredited videos that went viral nearly two years ago falsely claiming that Planned Parenthood sold “baby parts” (fetal tissue).
Last summer, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down sweeping restrictions on abortions passed by Texas lawmakers in 2013. That piece of legislation was considered the strictest anti-abortion law in the country, according to the AP. More than 20 abortion clinics in the state closed after it was passed.
As the Texas Observer noted:
In a Senate hearing earlier this year, SB 8 author Senator Charles Schwertner, an orthopedic surgeon from Georgetown, repeatedly cited the debunked Planned Parenthood videos, not women’s health, as the reason for the bill. Representative Cindy Burkett, R-Sunnyvale, the bill’s House sponsor, said Friday she is concerned with “fetal tissue becoming a commodity.”
Those concerns, apparently, do not extend to fetal tissue becoming a political commodity.