State Reps. Brian Harrison (R-Waxahachie) and Tom Oliverson (R-Houston) issued a joint press release today announcing their intent to file bills that would explicitly ban abortifacient drugs in Texas.
Even though Texas law currently criminalizes abortion by any means, the two Republicans say their legislation would directly cut off any Biden administration efforts to circumnavigate abortion laws.
“With Roe overturned, under current Texas law, it is illegal to administer a drug to a pregnant woman to induce an abortion, unless necessary to save the life of the mother,” the press release reads.
“While no further law should be needed, given the President of the United States’ and multiple cabinet secretaries’ pledges to attack state abortion laws, states like Texas must do everything they can to protect their clear constitutional authorities.”
In a video statement yesterday, President Joe Biden said he would take executive action to keep the abortifacient drug mifepristone accessible.
“My administration will also protect a woman’s access to medications that are approved by the Food and Drug Administration, the FDA, like contraception, which is essential for preventative health care. Mifepristone, which the FDA approved 20 years ago to safely end early pregnancies and is commonly used to treat miscarriages.”
U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland asserted that states cannot ban mifepristone based on safety concerns, and Health and Human Services Department (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra said his agency would work to “increase access to medication abortion.”
Every state that bans abortion, including Texas, allows procedures to evacuate miscarriages, treat ectopic pregnancies, or otherwise save the life of the pregnant mother. No state criminalizes the evacuation of miscarried or stillborn children. Only procedures that end the life of the unborn child are outlawed.
Harrison, who served as HHS chief of staff under former president Donald Trump, said his experience in the department will inform the legislation he and Oliverson plan to file.
“I know the tools available to Secretary Becerra and HHS, and I am planning to use that knowledge to allow a state to defeat their federal overreach,” he said.
Oliverson, a medical doctor, touted the state’s recent record of new abortion laws.
“Our commitment to protecting innocent unborn human life could not be more clear in Texas. We meant it when we passed the Texas Heartbeat Act, the trigger ban, as well as legislation forbidding ‘mail order’ abortions in Texas.”
Last year, the Texas legislature passed a law that bans the distribution of mifepristone and other abortifacient drugs by mail. It also requires the physician administering the drug to verify that a pregnancy exists and offer Rh immunoglobulin to patients with Rh-negative blood to prevent complications.
Although the upcoming bill is still in progress, Harrison said he and Oliverson are eyeing changes to laws that license medical fields in Texas.
“I think we can do this very, very simply just through modifications to licensing statutes and our administrative code. But we can get at this very simply because the areas I want to go at are squarely within a state’s purview to regulate: the practice of medicine, the practice of pharmacy, pharmacology,” Harrison said.
“These are areas where the state, under the Constitution of the United States, is clearly empowered to regulate. So I think it’ll just take a couple small tweaks to some existing statutes, licensing and otherwise.”
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