Texas Right to Know Pamphlet Subject of Much Debate

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Oct 23, 2003   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Texas Right to Know Pamphlet Subject of Much Debate

byPaul Nowak
LifeNews.com Staff Writer
October 23, 2003

Austin, TX (LifeNews.com) — A state-mandated "Women’s Right to Know" pamphlet raised complaints from both sides of the abortion debate at a public hearing Tuesday.

A measure passed by the state legislature last spring requires the Texas Department of Health to produce a brochure for women considering abortions, explaining risks of the procedure and options for carrying the pregnancy full-term, by Dec. 1. Similar pro-life laws in other states have helped reduce the number of abortions by as much as one-third.

During public testimony before the department of health, concerned individuals and groups discussed their issues with the draft.

The brochure also details the development of the unborn child, and the final copy will, as specified by the law, include color photographs of various stages of development. The measure also requires a 24 hour waiting period on abortions.

Kae McLaughlin, Executive Director of Texas Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League raised objections to the term "unborn child" used in the draft.

"This is not an appropriate medical term used by medical textbooks and mainstream physician groups," McLaughlin stated.

"I’ve never heard a woman say, ‘ I’m pregnant with a fetus,’" said San Antonio resident Anne Newman. "We need to use terms that adolescents can understand."

Pro-Life groups also find fault with the brochure, which they allege minimizes the risks involved in the abortion procedure.

"There is some mysterious resistance at the Texas Department of Health to crafting a booklet that is objective and medically accurate, especially in acknowledging that the majority of the studies, rather than just some of the studies, have identified an increased risk link between abortion and breast cancer," Elizabeth Graham of Texas Right to Life told LifeNews.com. "The bill specifically calls for this information to be given to women, and the language in the booklet is very ambiguous, potentially undermining this significant factor in a woman’s decision."

Pro-abortion groups felt that even the mention of an abortion-breast cancer link was too much, as they claim the link has been discredited by the National Cancer Institute. Other groups’ studies have found otherwise, however.

Mention of the negative psychological effects of abortion remain in the draft, including sexual dysfunction, substance abuse and suicide, despite protests from pro-abortion groups.

The legislation will take effect in January 2004, and will require a signed statement from the patient that she has received the state-issued brochure. Abortions after 15 weeks will also be required to be performed at an ambulatory surgical center or hospital licensed to perform the procedure.