The Texas Senate approved measures restricting abortion and amending rules about critical race theory Friday, advancing two of the 11 priorities listed in Gov. Greg Abbott’s agenda for the special legislative session.
Lawmakers passed S.B. 4 19-3, with one Democrat joining 18 Republicans, to tighten rules relating to access to abortion-inducing drugs such as mifepristone.
The bill outlaws the provision of such drugs by mail and adds rules requiring physicians who provide the drugs to perform an in-person examination of the patient first to determine her blood type and whether or not the pregnancy is ectopic.
Battles over access to mifepristone triggered legal disputes earlier in the coronavirus pandemic after a judge ruled that healthcare providers could mail the drugs to patients. The Trump administration challenged the ruling and prevailed in the Supreme Court.
“If the federal government lessens its authority to open it up for pharmaceutical companies to give drugs to the patient, we don’t want that to be the case in Texas,” said Democratic state Sen. Eddie Lucio, the bill’s author. “I hope we can keep it from happening here.”
The Senate also passed S.B. 3 18-4, which seeks to amend restrictions to the teaching of critical race theory and school curricula around the state.
Abbott already signed critical race theory legislation during the regular session, which outlined required curricula and restricted the teaching of concepts such as “an individual, by virtue of the individual’s race or sex, bears responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex.” S.B. 3 removes some of the materials that the current law requires students be taught.
Democratic state Sen. Judith Zaffirini opposed the bill, noting teachers said it would create “unnecessary pressure, intimidation, and uncertainty for them.”
“How are the prohibitions and requirements in this bill going to be enforced? That question never was answered at our hearings, but I shudder to think of the possibilities,” Zaffirini said.
The future of the two bills, along with other Senate-passed measures, is unclear. The Texas House of Representatives failed to reach a quorum to initiate special session business after 58 Democratic members fled down in protest of Republican efforts to pass voting laws.