Senate panel to mull abortion, resuscitation order bills Friday

The Senate Health and Human Services Committee on Friday is slated to hear a suite of bills to regulate abortions as well as to improve patient protections when it comes to do-not-resuscitate orders.

The 8 a.m. hearing will kick off a busy day for lawmakers who will hear some of the most controversial issues for the 30-day special legislative session, including a bill to ban transgender-friendly bathroom bills and diverting public school money to help students pay for private school tuition.

The committee will hear and possibly vote on three major types of legislation relating to abortion:

• Senate Bill 4 and SB 77 would ban local governmental entities, like a city, county or hospital district, from partnering with an abortion provider or those affiliated with an abortion provider.

• SB 10 and SB 85 would require physicians and health care facilities to report to the Texas Health and Human Services Commission abortion-related complications within 72 hours. Such complications would range from allergic responses and infection to death of the patient and incomplete abortions. Failing to comply would lead to a $500 civil penalty or loss of licenses for repeated offenses.

• SB 73 and SB 87 would require that for when performing an abortion on a woman younger than 18, the physician report to the state and in the woman’s medical records details about where and how consent was given, whether it was through parent or a physician, for example.

Lawmakers during the regular legislative session that ended in May approved a bill that would require abortion clinics and hospitals to bury or cremate fetal remains, whether they were from a miscarriage or abortion. It also restricts the most common procedure for second-trimester abortions, prohibits medical research on fetal tissue from abortions and creates state crimes for two practices already prohibited by federal law — buying or selling fetal body parts and “partial-birth” abortions.

On Thursday, abortion rights advocates filed a lawsuit against the state, arguing that the restriction on second-trimester abortions places an unconstitutional limit on abortion access by targeting “dilation and evacuation” procedures that physicians have determined to be the safest and most commonly used method of second-trimester abortions.

Also on Friday, the committee will hear bills that would increase protections for patients regarding do-not-resuscitate orders. Resulting from concerns that resuscitative methods cause more harm than benefit, such orders allow patients to decline treatments like CPR and defibrillation.

SB 11 and SB 80 would require that health care facilities like a hospital or hospice ensure that do-not-resuscitate orders are disclosed to patients or their medical decision-makers and the orders don’t go against a competent patient’s wishes. It would also ensure that such orders are valid if a physician believes the patient’s death is imminent.

Supporters of the bills say that doctors in hospitals have written such orders without consulting patients or their decision-makers.

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