Texas Wants a Detailed Report on All Abortions and Will Discipline Doctors Who Don't Comply

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Representative Bill Zedler finally got his creepy wish.
Last legislative session, Representative Bill Zedler, a Republican from Arlington, wanted to hear about abortions in Texas. All of them. In great detail.

Zedler filed a piece of legislation that would have required a woman having an abortion to fill out and submit to the state a detailed questionnaire about her educational background, the type of contraception she was using when the child was conceived, why she was having the abortion and who was paying for it, among other things. Doctors would also have had to submit a "complication reporting form" following an abortion, although the word "complication" was never actually defined in any way.

That bill died in committee in March of last year. But Zedler didn't go down so easily.

He still very much wanted to hear about those abortions. So he went over to the State Health and Human Services Commission and asked if they wouldn't mind implementing the reporting requirements anyway. As Andrea Grimes pointed out over on RH Reality Check, Zedler's staff was already soliciting the HHSC about implementing his new abortion requirements a week before they failed to become a law.

Now Zedler has gotten his wish, at least in part. On December 31, the Department of State Health Services will officially require that new "abortion reports" be submitted to the state. There will also be an additional form required when an abortion is performed during the third trimester.

The new reporting requirements, readable in the online Texas Register, are less invasive than the ones Zedler originally proposed. The woman can't be identified by name, and neither can the abortion facility, except with its consent. There aren't any questions about the woman's preferred method of birth control or the age of the man who impregnated her. Instead, the report merely asks for her year of birth, race, marital status, state and county of residence, the date of her last menstrual period and how many abortions and live births she's had before.

The doctor also has to affirm in writing that the patient has been shown a sonogram of the fetus, listened to a heartbeat (if one is present), and shown the Woman's Right to Know booklet, which still contains thoroughly debunked information linking abortion to breast cancer. There are also questions about the "method of pregnancy verification" and how the "fetal tissue and remains" were disposed of.

All of this looks remarkably similar, identical, in fact, to the "draft language" that a group of healthcare providers were shown back in April. At that time, DSHS rep Carrie Williams told us the language was "a starting-off point" and "entirely open for discussion at this point." (Williams was also a little shy about admitting that the reporting requirements were Zedler's idea, attributing them instead to "a general discussion among state leadership.")

There are also new reporting requirements for "complications" that occur following an abortion, although the word "complication" is never actually defined. Doctors have to submit a report within 30 days,detailing the type of abortion "that caused or may have caused the complication," as the new language puts it, plus the name of the facility where the abortion was performed, the facility where the complication was diagnosed and treated, a description of the complications, the number of weeks gestation when the abortion was performed, what type of anesthesia was used, as well as the patient's previous live births and abortions.

Texas law already requires that a woman look at a sonogram, listen to a heartbeat and read a medically inaccurate, pink-tinted little pamphlet. But it's not clear why the state is suddenly demanding an extra layer of proof that the doctor has done these things, or what type of "complications" they're supposed to be reporting.

However unclear some aspects of the new rules are, the consequences are severe. Doctors who don't comply can be subjected to "denial, suspension, probation or revocation" or their medical license.

You can read all these new rules for yourself in the Texas Register, a publication put out by the Texas Secretary of State that shows changes to the rules governing state agencies. As you look them over, take a moment to marvel at everything a humble state legislator can accomplish, if he just asks nicely enough.

(Correction, Dec. 18: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that the reporting requirements for third trimester abortions have changed. In fact, those rules have been in place since 2009; they're readable here. After December 31, the new rules on "complication" reporting will be added to that section, as you can see here.)

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66 comments
sidewalkastro
sidewalkastro

Zedler is just tip of the iceberg of the nut cases we have in the Texas legislature. All should be very afraid of what these people can do to us. I have worked for the Texas House of Representatives in the past and had to listen to them pontificate for hours.

rkm200
rkm200

Now why is it the single women voting block overwhelmingly NOT backing republicans? Duh.The world has progressed and society will never reverse. Grow and learn old white men or be left behind with your guns and repressive religions.

ozonelarryb
ozonelarryb

'...on all abortions'  That include Ricky's run for the presidency???

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

This fascist's proposal smacks of the German Nazis registering Jews after the first world war.

roo_ster
roo_ster

Any lackwits whining about this who also support Obamacare (or any sort of taxpayer-funded health care) ought to take a moment to reflect on the connection.

Angela Klattenhoff
Angela Klattenhoff

We all have more to do (or should have!) than monitor other people's private healthcare decisions. When are MEN going to butt the fuck out?????? What a freak show.

MushMouth1
MushMouth1

Damn freaks with their fetus fetish

I_Am_Awake
I_Am_Awake

"It already requires forcing a woman to look at a sonogram, listen to a heartbeat and read a medically inaccurate, pink-tinted little pamphlet. "

With patient/doctor confidentiality laws, I doubt these doctors are forcing anyone to look at a sonogram against their will.  How are you going to enforce that shit?  Politicians like Zedler are just jerking off their "religion of hate" constituents.

MisterMean
MisterMean

It seems that the Republicans want to embarrass the state (and themselves).   Not only this clown but that guy in Tyler who wants to arm teachers with assault weapons and that nut case in Lubbock (Head a country commissioner) who wanted a tax increase to quell riots that would occur after the presidential election.  And of course the king of clowns Rick Perry.  And I should not omit Dan Patrick down in Houston who's private life John Corrona has made some dark references to.   Nut cases that can't run their own lives want to run other.

whocareswhatithink
whocareswhatithink

Kind of creepy dude but OK, I imagine many reports will look like this: Dilute.Cervix.Suction. Currette. Uterus

OldSr
OldSr

texas wants toleave the union ,i wonder if mexico will put up with their bull @marcylauren @Dallas_Observer

Cassie Green
Cassie Green

@Jamie -Awesome. And something tells me this dude is really full of sh*t!

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

Keeping creepy lists of everybody with a gun and publishing lists of concealed carry licensees: prudent legislation.

Double checking that abortion doctors are complying with the law and not running murderous charnelhouses like Kermit Gossnell: INCREDIBLE ABUSE OF RIGHTS!!!!!

Cliffhanger
Cliffhanger

Mangle your patients as an incompetent surgeon--keep your medical license.

Fail to provide material for pervy state rep's self-gratification--lose your medical license.

Only in Texas.

JohnHardy303
JohnHardy303

@Hesiod2k11 Sick, sick legislator. Neolithic Texas.

allmattlaw
allmattlaw

@moorethink I'm sure this guy supports comprehensive sex Ed & increased availability of contraceptives to reduce unwanted pregnancies #Not

ReggieMarselus
ReggieMarselus

@jazgar Now that's an interesting concept; Forced Self-Incrimination~

ReggieMarselus
ReggieMarselus

@QueenMyrina1 @Dallas_Observer Now wait a minute; how can Texas get reports when they shut down all the clinics that do the reporting? sigh~

William Barrett
William Barrett

My mind's made up. I'm out of here. Texas is ridiculous.

roo_ster
roo_ster

@Angela Klattenhoff Stop using my tax dollars for it and I'll but out.  Until then, the taxpayers pay the costs to be the boss.  And given that males are roughly half the babies slaughtered for convenience's sake, men have skin in the game.

moiv.tx
moiv.tx

@I_Am_Awake  

When it comes to abortion in Texas, patient/doctor confidentiality -- at least, as most people understand that term, does not exist. The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals has made sure of that.

The statutes are enforced via mandatory state-authored documentation in each patient's record (signed by both doctor and patient), which is subject to surprise inspection by the state at any time. The licensing rules for abortion facilities also empower the state inspectors to copy any record they wish, and to take those records away with them, complete with a copy of the patient's photo ID and other personal information -- which must also, by law, be kept available to inspectors in the patient's chart for seven years.

Since "pro-life" operatives run frequent sting operations against clinics and their doctors, and the price of non-compliance is loss of medical license and a criminal record, any physician who failed to comply with the law would be an utter fool.

Chuck_Schick
Chuck_Schick

@everlastingphelps Physicians are currently required to be licensed to practice in the state, yes? Isn't that equal to registering a gun or having a concealed carry permit?

moorethink
moorethink

@allmattlaw Or, he doesn't. I feel like leaving this place to the idiots.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

In Germany, from 1933 onwards, the population had to prove it was not Jewish by providing certificates of baptism.

roo_ster
roo_ster

@Myrna.Minkoff-Katz @roo_ster Nope.  

I am against wealth transfer programs, especially those that take $$$ from poorer young folks and give it to richer older folks.

roo_ster
roo_ster

@Chuck_Schick @roo_ster Birth control is so cheap that if you can not afford birth control, you ought not be bumping uglies.  

Also, the point is that when you invite gov't into your health care business, don't be surprised if gov't intrudes more than you would like.

moiv.tx
moiv.tx

@roo_ster @Angela Klattenhoff  

Again, you are abysmally uninformed. It is illegal for any public funds--state or federal--to be used for the provision of abortion care.  Not one penny, and not in any way.  Those statutes are no more strictly enforced anywhere than they are in Texas.

MissMacy
MissMacy

@roo_ster @Angela Klattenhoff Know what? I'm a female AND a taxpayer. And my health care decisions are none of your damn business. Trust me ... if men were the gender that had babies, abortion and birth control would be free and sacred.

MisterMean
MisterMean

@roo_ster  What a bunch of crap!   Are you current on your child support?  How many unwanted children have you adopted?   None I bet.      I am so tired of religious nut cases sticking their noses into affairs that do not concern them claiming to be concerned about life that once after a child is born that they turn their backs on them.  You are not pro life but pro birth. 

MissMacy
MissMacy

@textradd The reporting requirements are humiliating, invasive and nobody's damn business.

textradd
textradd

@Myrna.Minkoff-Katz  

What does that have to do with the current situation about new reporting requirements though?  

I'm not saying I approve of this change, but I don't see the comparison to National Socialist 1933 either.

moiv.tx
moiv.tx

@roo_ster @Chuck_Schick  

Your crude revelation of utter ignorance on the subject of women's contraception leads one to believe that you might be one of the 12 people in Texas still unaware that the Perry posse has utterly dismantled the Texas Women's Health Program. The cost of a well woman exam alone -- the prerequisite for obtaining any form of hormonal contraception -- now can often exceed $250.  A single woman supporting two kids from behind a register at Walmart can't even dream of affording that expense, let alone a monthly prescription.

As ever, blather is cheap. But birth control isn't, not any more.

roo_ster
roo_ster

@Chuck_Schick @roo_ster You mean other than being an unconstitutional usurpation of power and subjugation of both taxpayers and those "served" by such a regime?

Perhaps you side with the Time Man of the Year who said, ”The task of politics is not to represent just one faction. Rather the task of politics must be to overcome these divisions for a greater good.”

http://tinyurl.com/bmr9jbw

Chuck_Schick
Chuck_Schick

@roo_ster @Chuck_Schick Health care reform is government of the people, by the people, for the people. How are we being intruded upon by social services that improve the nation and serve a greater good?

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

@everlastingphelps @Chuck_Schick actually, it is included in the 10th amendment, and under common law, under fiduciary law.  Common Law is the law of the land, the Constitution governs how that law is enforced, made and reviewed.

MisterMean
MisterMean

@everlastingphelps  Yes this is just another reason to start taxing the churches.   They can not keep their noses out of others businesses seem to be constantly urging their followers to do so.   

Chuck_Schick
Chuck_Schick

So we just roll everything back to 1787 and call it good? Lots of things have changed since then - including 26 amendments.

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