A disappointing, but not surprising, conclusion to debate in the Texas Senate today: HB 3994 passed on its second reading. It has a few more steps to take before it goes to the governor, but it will most likely get there, and if so, be signed into law.
Let us pull back for a moment and remember the reason the judicial bypass exists. It exists as a manner by which people can exercise a constitutional right. In other words, it is designed to help people who want an abortion to get an abortion.
Judicial bypass processes were not created as opportunities for lawyers and legislators to show off all of the fancy ways they can frustrate a person’s ability to exercise the right to an abortion.
Certainly, listening to today’s debate, you would be forgiven for thinking they were.
In fact, judicial bypass processes were necessarily because of attempts to restrict access to abortion very much like the ones proposed in this law.
Bypasses procedures, per the Supreme Court, are supposed to be expeditious. They are supposed to create opportunities for the exercise of a constitutional right, not needlessly burden them.
We spend a great deal of time in Texas advocating against bills, like HB 3994, which restrict access for all but those wealthy enough to go anywhere they need to go for any length of time and spend whatever it takes to obtain an abortion.
All of this time advocating on the margins, opposing arbitrary rules on which IDs are valid, pointing out the substantial difference in a 5-day requirement over a 2-day requirement for a ruling when time is of the essence … all of this time could be used so much more productively if we could agree that the law of the land allows people to terminate pregnancies and stop trying to contradict and legislate away that fact.
Thank you for showing up, time and again, to bear witness to the grave injustice being done when the legislature throws up one roadblock after another. We’ll need you again, maybe even later today, but certainly in the weeks, months, and years ahead as we cope with the ramifications of these dangerous, discriminatory laws.