Twelve bills now pending before the
Texas legislature would limit or prohibit
All of the bills are currently in
different committees, but if one of the
bills gets out of committee onto the
Texas House or Senate floor, passage is
almost certain, according to Karen Mul-
hauser, executive director of the National
Abortion Rights Action League.
"Statistics have shown that 60 percent
of all Americans support abortions or at
least 'freedom of choice,' " explained
The main problem, as she views the
situation, is that the majority who favor
the abortion issue do not voice their
opinion. Legislators, she feels, will hurry
to explain that their mail is running 100
letters against abortion to every one letter
favoring freedom of choice.
"If every woman that has had an abortion would stand up on the same day, the
legislators would have to listen. But, we
have found that most of the majority are
silent. Congressmen are voting the way
they believe most of their constituents
feel. If they receive more anti-letters than
favorable ones, naturally they are going
to vote against abortions," she stressed.
Mulhauser, here for a meeting with
members of the Texas Abortion Rights
Action League (TARAL), urged women
and men who are pro freedom of choice
not to hesitate, but to contact their legislators and tell them their views.
Three state legislators from the
Houston area have been the ones
introducing some of the key anti-abortion
bills. They are Senators Walter Mengden
and Jack Ogg and Representative Gene
One of the bills which is viewed by
Mulhauser and NARAL as being among
the worst is one proposed by Mengden.
This bill would prohibit hospitals, clinics
or any other medical facilities, supported
by any form of taxes, from using its
JOAN GLANTZ (L) and KAREN MULHAUSER
services or facilities for the performance
of abortions, except to save the life of the
woman or in cases of rape or incest. A
resident of the county in which the facility is located may sue to enjoin or prohibit the facuity.
"We feel this would be a serious and
dangerous bill. That means that none of
the birth control clinics where abortions
also can be obtained would be able to
perform the procedure. What we will see
is more self-induced abortions which have
much more serious consequences," commented Joan Glantz of the Houston
American Civil Liberties Union.
The worst of the pending legislation,
by far, Mulhauser stressed is the House
bill by Representative Bill Ceverha of
Dallas. This bill is the infamous "Akron
Ordinance" which repeatedly has been
struck down by the courts.
The bill defines the "unborn child" as
a person from the moment of conception;
requires second trimester abortions to be
performed only in a hospital and all abortion facilities to meet surgical standards;
requires the physician to dispose of the
fetus in a manner consistent with "human
dignity;" requires the filing of reports and
records for the purpose of gathering
statistical data. It would also require the
physician to counsel the woman seeking
an abortion, with her husband if she is
married or with her parents if she is under
18 years. This consultation concerning
consequences of the abortion to her or
her "unborn child" would take place 24
hours prior to the procedure.
The woman, husband or parents also
would be told that the state recognizes
the "unborn child" as an individual
human being and encourages the woman
to continue her pregnancy. The doctor
also would have to explain the physical
characteristics of the fetus at the time of
the abortion, including mobility, tactile
sensitivity, response to pain, brain and
heart function, development of external
members and internal organs.
Photographs and other visual materials
must be used.
"This bill clearly is unconstitutional,
imposing on a person's rights and it is inaccurate in that it explains the complications and serious physical after-effects of
abortions without telling the complications and problems of carrying the fetus
to full term," Mulhauser pointed out.
"This bill neglects the fact that abortions are much safer than carrying a child
to full term," she emphasized.
The Akron Ordinance has never gone
into effect in any area where it was
passed. The courts always have enjoined
such a law. This type of legislation was
first passed as a city ordinance in Akron,
Ohio, some counties adopted it in New
York and Kentucky and, finally, it
became a state law in Louisiana.
"It is not enough that the courts strike
down these laws. We are not sure what
the Supreme Court will decide; however,
we must, in the future, have legislation
passed that would grant a woman the
power to control her own body," Mulhauser emphasized.
Abortion is an issue that officials like
to shy away from. Mulhauser and other
proponents of the right to choose abortion have found that oftentimes even if a
legislator, in his mind, approves of abortion, he will vote against it because of
"If any of these bills is made into law,
the women who are going to be hurt the
most will be the low-income ones and
teenagers. Now, they are seeking legal
means for abortions. These laws would
make them turn to illegal means and into
the back alley butcher clinics," she
"Lately, more and more hospitals in
Houston and other cities have seen a rise
in the number cf girls who have tried
coathanger abortions because they do not
know that an abortion is legal in Texas.
There is so much publicity and voice
from the anti-factions that the majority's
views never are heard," Glantz informed.
The local doctors have not seen so
many coathanger abortions since 1973.
These bills, Glantz emphasized, would
encourage damage to women.
"You cannot tell me the anti-abortion
groups are pro-life. They are not and
neither are the men who are proposing
such bills. These same legislators certainly
are not voting pro-life on bills pertaining
to nutrition programs or funding
programs for lower-income groups. They
are not convincing me that they are pro-
life," Mulhauser adamantly stated.
If the Akron-type bill is passed, the
cost of an abortion would almost be
prohibitive since it requires a physician to
counsel with the patient and family
rather than a trained counselor, as is now
Mulhauser and Glantz feel that the
anti-abortion legislators and "pro-life"
factions are the same groups that are so
outspoken against the Equal Rights
"These men think that the woman's
place is in the home and that's where she
should stay. If a woman wants to be a
homemaker, I have the highest respect
for her, but it should be her choice,"
She pointed out that states and
countries that have passed liberal abortion laws have done so only after improving the status of women.
"The only countries that have antiquated laws in regard to women are the
Latin American and Moslem ones. In
both cases women have no status outside
the home. None of these countries has
legalized abortions in spite of the fact
that one out of every two beds in the
hospitals is filled with maternity patients,
either pregnant or for self-induced abortions," Mulhauser stressed.
"I want to make women and men mad
enough about the pending legislation that
they will contact their elected officials.
I want the women to be angry about the
laws that will have so much bearing on
their lives. I also want them to be more
assertive about the types of legislation
that are passed," she stated.
Mulhauser claims NARAL, ACLU and
TARAL have plans to get more organized
before the national and state elections
"I would like the effort to be three-
pronged-public education about the
serious threat to freedom of choice, a
lobbying effort in the Texas legislature
and getting more persons involved in
what their elected officials are doing,"
When asked why she felt the current
legislature had so many anti-abortion
bills, Mulhauser said, "We do not have
people like Sarah Weddington who will
stand up for women's rights in office
"Until women truly are able to control
their reproductive lives, they do not have
control over the other aspects of their
lives. To prohibit abortions is to take
away the element of freedom of choice
and a woman's respect," she expressed.
"How can these ^legislators value a
fetus above the life of a woman or of
other children who may not receive sufficient care if another baby is born? This
is an hypocrisy, making unborn children
paramount," she concluded.