by Hildegard Warner
Only two weeks remain in the 66th session of the Texas legislature and the usual rush has begun to clear out the backlog of bills
from Senate and House committees. Many worthwhile bills will die peacefully in the committees due to lack of support of an already overcrowded calendar.
Unfortunately, several bills which would severely limit women's freedom to control their own reproductive processes will not
die in committees as women's leaders hoped they would. In fact, several of these bills are well on their way to being passed
because the overwhelming majority of letters received by legislators are from pro-life forces. While pro-life groups represent a
minority viewpoint of the population as a whole, they are getting their message to the people in Austin who are going to vote
according to the wishes of the constituency they hear from.
There is still time for pro-choice forces to turn the situation around, however. Several Senators have already changed their
vote because letters favoring pro-choice began outnumbering the pro-life mail.
Below is the status of legislation on women's issues introduced during this legislative session. The next two weeks are crucial.
The lives of millions of Texas women will be affected by what transpires in the legislature during that time. To make your voice
heard, write or telephone the committee members, the senator and representative from your legislative district, the It. governor
and Gov. Clements. To write to Harris County Senators: The Honorable (senator's name), P.O. Box 12068, Capitol Station,
Austin, Tx. 78711. To write representatives: The Honorable (representative's name), P.O. Box 2910, Capitol Station, Austin,
Tx. 78769. Or call Western Union, 224-1705, and send a Public Opinion Message to these individuals. For $2, you can send a
15-word message and have the cost billed to your home phone number. ___^_
H.B. 125-Gene Green, Houston
S.B. 117-Walter Mengden, Houston
This bill would amend the Family Code by giving a living fetus, surviving an
abortion, the same rights, powers, and privileges as "other" citizens. It also
would terminate the parent-child relationship and make the fetus a ward of the
State Department of Human Resources.
The Senate version was passed out of Jurisprudence Committee to the full
floor by a 7-0 vote. The bill is ready for debate, and may have already been
voted on by press deadline.
The House version is still in the House Judicial Affairs Committee. Contact
these members: Chair, Ronald Bird; Vice Chair, Anita Hill; Dave Allred, Gonzalo
Barrientos, Jerry Donallson, Frank Gaston, Sam Hudson, Mary Polk, Ben Reyes,
H.B. 1063-Bill Ceverha, Dallas
S.B. 842-John Traeger, Sequin
This bill is called an "informed consent" measure. It would prohibit second
trimester abortions unless the procedure is performed in a hospital. The bill
instructs the state to print and requires physicians to distribute materials to
women seeking abortions informing them of the "physical characteristics of the
unborn child," that the fetus has sensitivity, pain, brain and heart function, and
must be buried with human dignity. If a woman is married, the physician must
certify in writing that the husband has been given the same material at least
24 hours prior to the abortion.
This bill has passed out of a subcommittee of the House Health Services
Committee, but has not yet been passed out of full committee. The Senate
version is still in a subcommittee of the Human Resources Committee.
H.B. 1580-Al Brown, San Antonio
S.B. 118-Walter Mengden, Houston
This bill would prohibit hospitals, clinics, or other medical facilities supported
by local, state or federal taxes, from using its services and/or facilities for the
performance of abortions, except to save the life of the mother or in cases of
incest or rape. Since all hospitals receive some tax money, this would effectively
put a stop to all abortions.
The House bill is still in subcommittee of the Health Services Committee.
The Senate version is in the Human Resources Committee. Write to Senators
Brooks, (chairperson); Braecklein (Vice-chairperson); Andujar, Blake, Clower,
Doggett, Jones, Patman, Price, Short, Truan on Senate Bills 842 and 118.
S.B. 119-Walter Mengden, Houston
This bill would prohibit the state, any city, county, special district (including
school districts), or other political subdivisions from entering into any health
insurance agreement that provides benefits for abortions. The bill has been
reported favorably from committee and may be called for floor debate at any
S.B. 651-Jack Ogg, Houston
S.B. 668-Jack Ogg, Houston
Both of these bills are scheduled for public hearings by the Senate Jurisprudence
Committee, Tuesday, May 15. Bill 651 defines an unborn child as a human being
from the time of conception. It would amend the Penal Code to include various
Bill 668 would amend the Texas Revised Civil Statutes to expand the definition of "person" to include "unborn child" in all stages of its development.
S.B. 922-Raul Longoria
This bill is also scheduled for public hearing by the Jurisprudence Committee,
Tuesday, May 15. This bill would require parental notification of an abortion
or approval of the district court if the parent is not available. If the court felt
the minor understood the consequences to herself and the unborn child, the
abortion may be allowed.
H.B. 632-Hugo Berlanga, Corpus Christi
This would remove the restriction of minors consenting to contraceptives and
other family planning services, but excludes abortion. The bill is now in the
H.B. 1153-Gene Green, Houston
This bill would give persons access to their medical records, including parents
access to minor children's records without restriction. A public hearing was
conducted March 21 and the bill could be passed out of committee at any time.
H.B. 334-Gene Green
H.B. 392-Gerald Hill
Both bills would prohibit discrimination in the issuance and rates in automobile
insurance because of sex, age, marital status, national origin or physical handicap. Both bills are in subcommittees.
S.B. 181-Jack Ogg
A bill to allow the Texas Rehabilitation Commission to operate four centers for
displaced homemakers around the state passed the Senate May 10 and goes to
S.B. 500-Gene Jones
H.B. 903-Hugo Berlanga
These bills would strike the word "rape" from the law books except for the offense of statutory rape and rape of a child and should reduce its use in courtroom proceedings. The bills would make these types of assault sex neutral as well
as eliminate the present "marriage and co-habitation" defense in rape cases.
Penalties for the crime would remain the same, but a woman would be reporting
an assault and jurors would be asked to convict a person of assault rather than
rape. The House bill is still in Jurisprudence Committee. The Senate bill has
passed out of Jurisprudence Committee and is currently in the Calendar Committee to be scheduled for the floor.
H.B. 202-Samuel W. Hudson, III
H.B. 199-Samuel W. Hudson, III
These bills would establish additional child care centers for AFDC recipients and
for others on a sliding fee scale. Both bills are in a subcommittee of the Human
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