Texas committee considers restricting abortion drugs

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February 28, 2013

By Andy Marshall

Texas

AUSTIN, Texas: The Health and Human Services Committee heard testimony about a bill to place restrictions on the provision of abortion-inducing drugs. Two women invited by Senate Bill 97's primary author, Senator Dan Patrick (R), testifed about the negative health and psychological consequences they experienced from their abortions. Opponents of the bill, including NARAL Pro-Choice Texas and American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, argued that the restrictions do not follow present-day best practices and would harm the doctor-patient relationship.[1] Doctors testified both for and against the bill, with one ob-gyn saying the restricitons would bring abortion practice in line with modern standards while a representative of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists stated that the FDA protocol doctors would be required to use is 13 years old and not as effective as the drug regimens Texas abortion providers are currently using.[2]

Patrick filed Senate Bill 97 on November 12 of last year. Senator Donna Campbell (R) became an official coauthor on February 19. The bill would require that only physicians distribute such drugs and that they do so in accordance with the drug's protocol from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Any physician distributing abortion-inducing drugs would be required to first medically examine the pregnant woman, provide the woman with the drug's label, contract with another physician to treat any emergencies arising from use of the drug, give the woman contact information for that emergency services provider, schedule a follow-up appointment with the patient to occur within 14 days, and report any adverse medical event to the FDA through its MedWatch system. The Texas Medical Board would be responsible for enforcing these restrictions and would be permitted to take disciplinary action and assess administrative penalties for violations.[3]

After Tuesday's hearing, SB 97 remained pending in the Health and Human Services Committee, where it has been since being referred there on January 28. There were no further hearings or votes scheduled as of press time.[4]

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