The Texas legislature passed a bill on Wednesday to create a “safety net” for women who want to terminate a pregnancy, but it’s unclear whether the new law will be enough to protect women from a deadly and protracted procedure that can be deadly and painful.
The bill, which is likely to face a vote next week, will allow women who are seeking an abortion in a hospital emergency room to go to a private clinic instead of the clinic where they’re currently treated.
The goal is to ensure that patients can access care if they can’t access the local abortion provider.
The new law would allow a woman to seek an abortion at a private facility, and would also allow women to get abortions in the emergency room, in an outpatient facility, or on a “temporary” basis.
The proposed legislation comes amid an uptick in women seeking abortions in Texas, which saw a nearly 20 percent jump in abortions in 2016 compared with the previous year, according to a report from the Guttmacher Institute.
The state’s abortion rate was 3.9 abortions per 1,000 women in 2016, which was the second highest rate in the nation.
Abortion rights advocates have long pushed for more regulation in Texas because of a high rate of unsafe abortions in clinics.
Some clinics have had to close due to staffing shortages, and state lawmakers have sought to close the majority of abortion clinics in Texas.
Abortion opponents have also argued that the proposed legislation is unnecessary and could have unintended consequences, including forcing abortion providers to close.
However, a federal court recently overturned a Texas law that required abortion providers that receive federal funds to notify their patients of their choice of a physician, and said that the state was in violation of the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that providers obtain written notification from patients before deciding to perform an abortion.
The court also ruled that a law requiring abortion providers who receive federal funding to inform patients of the choice of their physician was unconstitutional.
A second measure that was passed in the Texas legislature on Wednesday will create a 24-hour waiting period between an abortion and a hospital discharge, which would help women who have a difficult time finding a safe abortion provider and would allow women with medical emergencies to seek treatment.
The proposal would also require women to obtain the counseling they need to make the decision to terminate their pregnancy in a local hospital emergency ward or in a clinic that specializes in abortion.
“Abortion is an important, life-saving medical procedure,” Texas Democratic Rep. Lynn Woolsey said in a statement after the legislation was passed.
“Our state is leading the way on ensuring access to safe, legal abortion for women in need.
The Texas Legislature should heed the voices of women, and heed the advice of doctors, who know that the most effective way to end a pregnancy is to get it done safely, in a safe, medically supervised setting.”
A new federal court ruling that allowed the state to close clinics that provide abortions could prevent the new legislation from becoming law, but Republicans in the state House of Representatives, which passed the bill, are still expected to vote on it.
A similar bill was approved by the state Senate last week, but the House is expected to move forward with it without any changes.
Abortion access is a central issue for Texas Republicans in an election year that is shaping up to be one of the most expensive in the country.
Texas, the nation’s second-most expensive state for abortions after New York, has spent $7.7 million on campaign ads to support abortion rights and has spent about $5 million on advertisements since 2016 to attack Democrats, particularly the state’s congressional delegation, who voted to defund Planned Parenthood in March.
The abortion bill would also prevent abortion clinics from receiving federal funds, and it would require doctors who perform abortions to receive a written counseling about the procedure, something the bill would prohibit.
“It’s time for the state of Texas to stop punishing women who seek abortions and take care of women who need abortions,” Woolsey, a Democrat, said in the statement.
“This is a critical step in our fight to protect Texas women from the horrific toll of this barbaric procedure.”