June 18, 2012 — Texas' State Health Services Council on Thursday voted unanimously to approve new abortion regulations that would require doctors to gather more information from abortion patients to submit to the state health department, the Dallas Morning News reports. The regulations will be published in the Texas Register for public comment.
Under current Texas law, the state health department already gathers information from women seeking abortions including: their birth year, race, marital status, home country, how many children they have and whether they have previously had an abortion.
The proposed rules would require reporting additional information including the woman's highest educational level and complications that could arise within 30 days of the procedure, according to the Morning News. Further, the rules would require women under age 18 to say whether they received parental permission for the procedure or went to court to get authorization from a judge.
The proposed rules borrow language from legislation proposed by state Rep. Bill Zedler (R). Zedler's bills failed because of the cost of collecting the data, the invasiveness of the questions and the polarizing nature of abortion bills, according to the Morning News.
Groups supporting abortion rights say the proposed rules could jeopardize patients' privacy and cause physicians to fear unjust sanctions. State Sen. Jose Rodriguez (D) said requiring 16 pieces of information for each procedure "is a considerable burden on physicians ... irrelevant to the services being provided." Blake Rocap, legislative counsel for NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, said the information could be enough to identify some women, particularly once education level is added. "There is no maternal health issue," Rocap said, adding, "There's no other reason than to try to figure out who is the girl, what county and what judge" (Hoppe, Dallas Morning News, 6/16).
Repro Health Watch — an exciting new edition of the Women’s Health Policy Report — compiles and distributes media coverage of proposed and enacted state laws and ballot initiatives affecting women's access to comprehensive reproductive health care, as well as litigation in response to those provisions.