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Texas Medical Board Proposes Guidance For Abortion Exceptions But It Won’t Provide A Specific List

The Texas Medical Board on Friday released guidelines for doctors on how to define what constitutes an emergency medical exception under the state’s abortion ban. Abortion-rights advocates were disappointed, expecting a clear list of conditions that would qualify.

The proposal comes after the Texas Supreme Court and doctors and patients urged the board to provide guidance and examples on how to navigate the state’s abortion ban.

The board, made up of 16 people – 12 of whom are men and only one of whom is an obstetrician and gynecologist – said a doctor could perform an abortion if a pregnant person had a “medical emergency.” The proposal defines this emergency as “a life threatening condition aggravated by, caused by or arising from a pregnancy that is certified by a physician places the woman in danger of death or a serious impairment or a major bodily function unless an abortion is performed.”

The proposal advises doctors to document their decision-making in determining whether or not a pregnant person needs an abortion.

The head of the panel also mentioned that other issues surrounding the Texas law, such as the lack of exceptions in cases of rape and incest, were beyond the panel’s authority.

“We can only do so much,” said Dr. Sherif Zaafran, the board’s president.

There will be a 30-day public comment period before the board issues a final rule.

“A list of exemptions is, number one, never going to be exhaustive,” Zaafran told Houston Public Media. “And, number two, it’s always going to have to take consideration of the circumstance of the case itself, and that’s why we use very specific language of medical judgment.”

Pro-abortion groups criticized the proposal, saying it was not clear and did not protect doctors from prosecution.

“You’ve got people who are scared to death,” said Steve Bresnen, one of the lobbyists and an attorney. “They are facing death and they are scared to death and we think you can do more than it seems that your proposed rule would do. In that sense, we’re disappointed.”

If a doctor is convicted of performing an abortion in Texas, they could face up to 99 years in prison, a $100,000 fine, and the loss of their medical license.

In 2023, doctors reported 52 abortions performed in the state as a medical emergency or to preserve the health of the pregnant person.

RA Staff
RA Staff
Written by RA News staff.


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