House Committee on State Affairs
Joint Testimony in Opposition to HB 1648
On Behalf of Trust Respect Access Coalition
Submitted by Whole Woman’s Health
April 29, 2015
Chairman Cook and members of the State Affairs Committee,
My name is Fatimah Gifford, I am the Director of Public Relations for Whole Woman’s Health, and I am here today to testify on behalf of the Trust Respect Access coalition, a group of diverse organizations working to support policies that restore trust in Texans to make their own reproductive health care decisions, respect for health care professionals, and access to safe, timely abortion care. We are testifying today in opposition to HB 1648.
While HB 1648 may have the intention to bring the very serious matter of coercion to the surface, this bill not only perpetuates the widely debunked and dangerous myths about abortion, it also makes inaccurate assumptions about the decision making process women undergo when facing an unplanned pregnancy as well as the professional guidelines providers adhere to when offering this medical care. Additionally, this bill contains unnecessary provisions that dramatically contribute to abortion stigma before and after a woman’s abortion procedure.
Under the guise of anti-coercion and the protection of human trafficking victims, Representative White presents this bill as a response to outdated studies that lack proven scientific data.
The studies often used to substantiate this legislation have been presented without any clear citation to a peer-reviewed scientific analysis, and furthermore, the scientific community has discredited these studies’ findings. Studies that contain inaccurate data should not inform the practice of medicine, nor should they be the basis of legislation. Misinformation does not promote women’s health or safety.
Provisions that require several large posters to be posted in medical facilities and require physicians and health center staff to deliver redundant verbal notices are not only unnecessary but will create an environment hostile to a woman making this very private and personal decision. Texas women should be trusted to make the best decisions for themselves or their family. Women already receive numerous state mandated materials about their options and must sign multiple state mandated documents to verify medical consent prior to the procedure.
Various findings in peer-reviewed studies on abortion outcomes, including the American Psychological Association, have concluded that the abortion procedure itself does not cause harm to women, but instead it is laws that stigmatize women and attempt to shame them.
HB 1648 offers solutions to non-existent problems. Abortion providers regularly screen each patient for coercion, human trafficking, domestic violence, and other concerns as part of our thorough counseling and screening process. Abortion care providers and the domestic violence community have proudly worked together for decades to ensure the rights and physical autonomy of women and we have an impeccable record of service.
Abortion care providers foster a judgment-free, safe and compassionate space for our patients and their families to discuss their decisions privately and confidentially. With current procedures in place, each patient routinely undergoes a one-on-one counseling visit prior to their procedure, wherein they consent to their abortion and proclaim if they are making their decision free of coercion or force. If at any time during a woman’s visit, she states that she does not want the procedure, abortion providers will not perform the abortion. Regardless of a woman’s decision to have an abortion, providers equip them with the proper resources and referrals needed. And in cases of domestic violence, abortion providers already utilize and refer women to professional resources in an expeditious manner.
For these reasons, we respectfully urge this committee to oppose HB 1648. Thank you for your time and for allowing me to share these remarks.
Director of Public Relations, Whole Woman’s Health
On behalf of the Trust Respect Access Coalition