Fact-checking the claims in abortion legislation Senate Bill 5

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by DAVID SCHECHTER

Bio | Email | Follow: @davidschechter

WFAA

Posted on June 24, 2013 at 6:47 PM

Updated Monday, Jun 24 at 6:55 PM

The abortion bill that passed the House and is on its way to the Senate would ban abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy, require doctors to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals and limit abortion procedures to surgical centers.

It’s an important debate and it’s time for a reality check on some of the claims.          

The first claim comes from Pro-Choice Texas. It calls the proposed changes "the most restrictive abortion law Texas has ever seen, and one of the most restrictive in the country."

If it passes, that will be true.

Research from the Guttmacher Institute, a pro-choice advocacy group, lumps five states together as the most restrictive on abortion laws: Louisiana, Missouri, Kansas, Indiana, and now Texas. Read the following links to additional research on abortion medication and ultrasound requirements.  

The second claim comes from Rep. Jodie Laubenberg, a Republican from Parker, who sponsored Senate Bill 5

"If she does choose to have that abortion, I want to make sure it's done safely and in the best way possible for her,” Laubenberg said.

That claim is too simple.

The bill does add additional safeguards:

  • It requires abortions to be performed at an outpatient surgery center
  • It says doctors must have privileges to admit patients to a nearby hospital

But as it relates to women's health, government records show it is safer to have an abortion than it is to have a baby. The Texas Department of State Health Services reports, since 2000, doctors have performed almost 940,000 abortions in Texas, resulting in five deaths.          

And the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists writes:

"Legal induced abortion is markedly safer than childbirth. The risk of death associated with childbirth is approximately 14 times higher than that with abortion."          

Finally, the most difficult claim to sort out in Senate Bill 5 is this: 

"An unborn child is capable of experiencing pain by not later than 20 weeks after fertilization."

The truth is, it depends who you ask.          

The authors of the bill submitted 32 sources saying a fetus is capable of feeling pain at 20 weeks.          

On the other hand, in 2005, the Journal of American Medicine wrote:

"Evidence regarding the capacity for fetal pain is limited, but indicates that fetal perception of pain is unlikely before the third trimester [24 weeks]."

And a 2010 study from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists said:

"The fetus cannot feel pain before 24 weeks because the connections in the fetal brain are not fully formed."

E-mail dschechter@wfaa.com

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