KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Texas Senate Passes Abortion Restrictions, Opponents Vow Legal Fight

Texas Senate lawmakers have followed their House counterparts in approving a series of abortion restrictions. The move has opponents vowing to take their fight to the courtroom and doctors at abortion clinics are worried the legislation could force them to shut down.

The Washington Post: Texas Abortion Vote Joins Growing Legal Frenzy 
A sweeping set of abortion restrictions adopted by the Texas state Senate on Saturday is the latest in a series of state-level political fights triggering a frenzy of legal action that could determine how much access to abortion services American women have in the future. Abortion opponents hope that eventually some of cases will reach the U.S. Supreme Court (Eilperin, 713).

Fox News: Texas Dems Vow To Fight Abortion Bill Passed By Republican-Led Senate
Texas Democrats vowed to fight one of the most restrictive abortion bills in the nation passed by the state legislature late Friday in front of more than 2,000 protesters. "There will be a lawsuit. I promise you," Dallas Sen. Royce West said on the Senate floor, raising his right hand as if taking an oath. Democrats offered 20 amendments to the bill, which will ban abortions after 20 weeks, require abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital and require all abortions to take place in surgical centers. They ranged from exceptions for rape and incest to allowing doctors more leeway in prescribing abortion-inducing drugs. But Republicans would have none of it (7/13).

The Associated Press: Texas Abortion Providers Fear Major Shutdowns
Dr. Howard Novick winces as he recalls treating two and three women a week for infections and complications from botched abortions. It was the early 1970s, before the procedure was legalized, and the experience persuaded him to devote his life to this area of medicine. Now, more than 40 years later, new abortion restrictions passed by the Texas Legislature could force Novick to close the Houston abortion clinic he opened in 1980 because, he says, he does not have $1 million to $1.5 million to convert his run-of-the-mill medical office into a fully loaded surgical center with wide corridors and sophisticated air-flow systems (Plushnick-Masti, 7/13).

Bloomberg: Texas Abortion Clinics Need Million-Dollar Fixes To Stay Open
Requirements for wider hallways, janitor closets and back-up generators will likely be the downfall of Amy Hagstrom Miller's abortion business in Texas. Texas lawmakers last week approved a law requiring that abortion clinics become hospital-like outpatient surgical centers, with detailed rules for how the buildings are designed (Deprez and Mildenberg, 7/15).

One option for women who want an abortion in Texas may be in Mexico --

The New York Times: A Pill Available In Mexico Is A Texas Option For Abortion 
At the Whole Woman's Health center here [McAllen, Texas], a young woman predicted what others would do if the state's stringent new abortion bill approved late Friday forces clinics like this one to close: cross the border to Mexico to seek an "abortion pill." ... In Nuevo Progreso, only yards past the Mexican border, pharmacists respond to requests for a pill to "bring back a woman's period" by offering the drug, misoprostol, at discount prices: generic at $35 for a box of 28 pills, or the branded Cytotec for $175 (Eckholm, 7/13).

Lawmakers in Missouri and North Carolina also passed abortion-related bills --

Reuters: Doctor Must Be Present For Drug-Induced Abortion In Missouri
A doctor will have to be present for any drug-induced abortion in Missouri starting on August 28 because Governor Jay Nixon on Friday allowed a measure passed by the state legislature to become law without his signature. Nixon, a Democrat, said he decided not to sign the law and made no further comment (Murphy, 7/12).

North Carolina Health News: House Approves Abortion Bill After Marathon Debate
With only one Republican dissenting from the majority, members of the North Carolina House of Representatives voted Thursday afternoon to enact sweeping changes to the state's abortion regulations. Senate Bill 353, a bill originally dealing with motorcycle safety, was quickly amended Wednesday to add a number of provisions carried over from a bill passed by the Senate just before the July 4th holiday (Hoban, 7/12).

North Carolina Health News: Interactive: Women's Reproductive Health And Abortion
For the past two weeks, North Carolina lawmakers have been debating bills that would change the state's regulation of abortion clinics, change the ability of health plans to cover the procedure, and ban the sex-selective abortions. This interactive map gives readers an idea of who and how many women in the state have had abortions (Hoban, 7/14).

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