Sen. Patrick files abortion drug bill for special session
School finance, healthcare costs and congressional redistricting — those are the items on Gov. Rick Perry’s to-do list for state lawmakers during this special session. But that hasn’t kept state Sen. Dan Patrick (R-Houston) — the author of pre-abortion sonogram legislation — from filing another abortion-related bill, this one to regulate the use of abortion drug RU-486.
Patrick’s Senate Bill 21 is identical to the version of his SB 1790 that passed out of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee during the Regular Session. SB 21 compels physicians to follow guidelines for RU-486 established by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, including restricting its use to 49 days after conception, rather than the 63-day mark that some physicians use.
As the Austin American-Statesman reported in late April, state Sen. Jose Rodriguez (D-El Paso) argued “that physicians have the discretion to stray from FDA guidelines if research shows the practice to be safe.”
The first version of Patrick’s abortion drug bill would have made a violation a Class A misdemeanor, carrying a penalty of up to one year in jail and a $4,000 fine, and also included civil penalties. The current version of SB 21 does not include those penalties but enables the Texas Medical Board to take disciplinary action.
For the special session, Patrick filed SB 17 to create a study committee for the proposed Interstate Health Care Compact — which would only take effect if legislation passed to create the compact. Patrick also filed SB 20 that attempts to clarify which offices can be voted on by Texas citizens residing outside the U.S. indefinitely.
In addition to being the founder of the Legislature’s Tea Party Caucus of Texas (and Independent Conservative Republicans of Texas), Patrick has also formed an exploratory committee to look at running for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison.