HB2510 ostensibly deals with sunset review of the Department of State Health Services. Update at the end of this post.
A whole passel of amendments just got tacked on that turn it into a de facto abortion bill further restricting and regulating abortion providers.
The representatives filing amendments include:
• 2 from Rep. Matt Krause to regulate abortion providers.
• 1 from Rep. Matt Rinaldi that the state would not pay for ANY part of judicial bypass procedures.
• 4 from Rep. Matt Schaefer that make reporting requirements for abortion providers much more stringent and frequent with more severe penalties for filing late, and removing a doctor’s right to perform an abortion when a person wants the abortion because the fetus has been found to have a severe and irreversible abnormality.
• 1 from Rep. Matt Shaheen that also imposes more stringent and frequent reporting requirements on abortion providers.
Amendments like these are selfish attention grabs by legislators unwilling to do the hard work of building consensus around a bill and allowing it to follow the usual path through the process.
These men named Matt – all Tea Party-approved men named Matt – have hijacked a bill about the efficacy of the entire Department of State Health Services, a topic that we can all agree deserves attention on its own, and turned it into a proxy fight over abortion restrictions.
These sorts of antics are one reason so many Texans have disengaged from politics, staying home on election day, and throwing up their hands in collective dismay over the petty posturing of pusillanimous politicos like Krause, Rinaldi, Schaefer, and Shaheen.
Posturing to them, at any rate. For the Texans affected by these amendments, they are amendments that, should they become law, will have life-changing consequences.
Rep. Four Price, author of HB 2510, just let everyone know that he’s going to kill the amendments. I missed his statement, but did tune in to hear him explaining that it is his strong preference, like many members, that people who wish to amend his bill come to him to speak about it before the bill gets to the floor of the house.
I’m fairly certain that Rep. Price would vote for any and all abortion restrictions that might come to the House floor on their own accord, including those in HB 3994 that was left pending in committee last night. The larger issue here is that many members would prefer to get business done than become mired in gamesmanship and amendment power-plays.
It’s still a long time until sine die on June 1st.
Wow, it got way worse before the epic performances of several members turned it around. You can read about the path that ultimately lead the bill back to committee, which strips it of all amendments, on the Texas Tribune’s site.
I was watching the live stream during the debate on the amendments, and I’m sure my list of highlights matches others:
- Rep. J.D. Sheffield, a doctor who normally votes against abortion rights and access, spoke from his heart about his experience as a doctor with couples who learn that their wanted pregnancy has gone radically off-course because of a severe and likely fatal fetal abnormality. He eloquently implored the House to oppose the attempt to remove doctors’ ability to perform an abortion in those circumstances, asking “why should the heavy, blunt hand of government come into that most heart-rending decision?” Rep. Schaefer responded with a curt, chilling line of propaganda about two beating hearts and not cutting up babies. Rep. Sheffield deserves appreciation for standing up to the madness.
- Rep. Jessica Farrar stepped up, as is custom and as had been happening all afternoon with representative after representative, and asked Rep. Shaefer, the amendment’s author, to yield for a question. Voice dripping with disdain and derision, he simply refused to yield. Rep. Farrar, in the most dignified and calm manner, although her voice was shot through with tremors of rage and frustration, called him out and put the rest of the house on notice that this session’s misogyny would not go unanswered and that she refused to yield to it.
- Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer put the exclamation point on her statement. Texans know that when TMF steps up to the mic and pointedly asks about a specific line on p. 314 of a bill, that bill is going DOWN on a point of order and there’s nothing anyone can do about it.