Doctors, Advocates Protest Changes to Texas Abortion Booklet

AUSTIN, Texas — Thousands have submitted comments to the Texas Department of State Health Services protesting revisions made to a booklet the state requires that doctors give women seeking an abortion.

A coalition of physicians and women’s health-care advocates said thepamphlet, called “A Woman’s Right to Know,” contains medically inaccurate information and uses biased language intended to frighten and shame women who want to end a pregnancy.

State Representative and former registered nurse, Donna Howard, D-Austin, said it’s the state’s responsibility to publish accurate information.

“Lawmakers like myself will be watching this matter closely,” Howard said. “The Texas Women’s Health Caucus will be submitting comments regarding the draft this Friday, and I would urge the Department of State Health Services to make the necessary changes to the document.”

A spokeswoman for the state health department said the agency consulted with several stakeholders in drafting the changes, including the Texas chapter of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. However, the physicians’ group said state officials did not include any of their suggestions in the proposed draft.

According to Howard, the booklet not only has scientifically inaccurate information about fetal development, it also warns women that the procedure could leave them disfigured and potentially suicidal. She called that a scare tactic. Howard argued that it’s wrong for the state to force doctors to decide whether to hand out this information or face an possible $10,000 fine.

“As a former registered nurse,” she said, “I am outraged that the state requires health professionals to provide medically inaccurate information to their patients.”

The Texas Legislature originally passed an “informed consent” law in 2003 mandating that patients receive the booklet. The health department will accept comments on the revisions through July 29.

Read the text of the proposed booklet here.

Author: Mark Richardson, Public News Service