Texas lawmaker files bill to protect women forced into abortion

A state representative has filed a new bill to protect women from being forced into an abortion.

White said HB 1648, the Coerced Abortion Prevention Bill, will protect victims forced to terminate a pregnancy, but pro-choice groups in Austin said the bill is just a way for politicians to place more restrictions on abortion.

State Rep. Molly White said studies show about 60 percent of women who seek abortions do not want to terminate their pregnancy.

Instead, White said women are making the decision to abort because they are being told to by a parent, boyfriend, or even a trafficker. White said she filed her first bill to protect those women.

In a statement White said, "HB 1648 gives women freedom, protection, resources and the legal framework to protect them from an unwanted abortion."

Susan Hays, legislative counsel for NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, said the bill is just a way for lawmakers to place more restrictions on abortion.

"She's creating a problem where none exist to push yet more abortion legislation in Texas that is not needed," said Hays.

White said the bill will help protect women by requiring abortion clinics to screen for coercion. The clinic must also provide private access to resources to protect the victim from the person forcing her to abort. Hays said clinics already do that.

"Abortion clinics for decades have screened for domestic violence and any other pressure on women because abortion clinics are so dedicated to women exercising their own autonomy in seeking healthcare," said Hays.

Hays said the bill would make an already difficult choice more challenging.

"The bill is more pile-on of unnecessary regulations and delays access of abortion. Buried in her bill is a 72 hour waiting period," said Hays.

In another statement White explains, "The bill permits a 72-hour waiting period after a woman has indicated that she has been coerced before having an abortion. This gives law enforcement time to investigate the coercion and the woman time to look at her options."

Several clinics in Texas closed after legislation passed placing strict requirements on abortion facilities last legislative session.

Hays said clinics that remain open are already overloaded with patients and any additional wait time could be detrimental.