NEWSFLASH: Texas Anti-Choice Law Targets Teens

Screen Shot 2015-06-09 at 1.55.23 PMA new law signed this week by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) prohibits any woman who doesn’t have valid “proof of identity or age” from obtaining an abortion. Under HB 3994, physicians are expected to assume any pregnant woman is a minor if she can’t provide I.D.

The I.D. requirement effects society’s most vulnerable women, including those who are low-income, undocumented or survivors of sex-trafficking, says executive director of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, Jessica González-Rojas. She adds:

Texas women are sick of politicians playing games with their health. This latest policy would not only deny safe and timely care to young women, it would force every woman in Texas seeking an abortion to produce a specific form of I.D. or be turned away. The impact on rural, low-income and immigrant Latinas, many of whom lack these forms of I.D., will be devastating.

The law, scheduled to go into effect January 1, also has a particular impact pregnant teenage girls because it makes it more difficult for minors to be granted judicial bypasses that waive the state’s parental-consent-for-abortion requirement. Under current law, a young girl who, for example, lives in an abusive home where revelation of her pregnancy could put her in danger can request a judicial bypass to obtain a legal abortion without having to inform her family.

But HB 3994 puts restrictions on that process by requiring teens to file a bypass petition in the same county in which they live. This could potentially discourage teen girls from applying for the bypass because they fear being recognized at their local courthouse. The legislation also prevents judges from considering emotional abuse when determining whether the minor should be given a bypass.

Nancy Northup, president and CEO at the Center for Reproductive Rights, has called it “cruel and callous” to limit abortion access for young people who may be in unstable or unsafe situations:

Texas women have already seen their health care options devastated by politicians piling on one severe restriction after another, and this will only drive a bigger wedge between them and the high-quality care they need.

HB3994 comes on the heels of another blow to abortion access out of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, which last week upheld a provision of Texas’ HB2 that requires abortion clinics to meet the building standards of ambulatory surgical centers. If the appeals court or the Supreme Court doesn’t grant a stay—requested by the Center for Reproductive Rights—the second most populous state in the nation could have just eight open abortion clinics by July 1.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Light Brigading under Creative Commons 2.0.





Associate editor of Ms. magazine