Texas Medical Board asked to clarify abortion exceptions

Texas Medical Board asked to clarify abortion exceptions

Two lawyers asked the Texas State Medical Board to provide “clear guidance” about abortion exceptions following the state’s Supreme Court ruling that prohibited a woman with an unviable pregnancy from getting the procedure.

Steve and Amy Bresnen, lawyers and lobbyists, filed a petition on 16 January asking the board to give clarity on abortion exceptions for both pregnant individuals and physicians.

The petition states that the Texas Supreme Court “expressly called for” the board’s action in the Kate Cox decision. A Texas judge initially granted Ms Cox, a Dallas woman whose foetus was diagnosed with a fatal condition, an emergency abortion. However, that decision was reversed by the state’s supreme court.

The decision said that while the court “cannot go further by entering into the medical-judgment arena,” the board “can do more to provide guidance in response to any confusion that currently prevails.”

Now, a month after the ruling, the attorneys are asking the board for clarification.

“Pregnant females in life-threatening situations and the health care providers otherwise willing to save their lives simply cannot be required to stand idly in the void when the [board] has the authority to act and the duty to regulate medicine in this state in the public interest,” the petition said.

The Independent has reached out to the Texas Medical Board.

To eliminate lingering questions about what is legal when it comes to abortions performed in the state, the lawyers proposed a few rules.

These rules include “clarifying” when the medical emergency exception allows a provider to perform the procedure, “identifying” conditions that constitute the emergency exceptions, and asking the board to point out steps to ensure that providers adhere to the “reasonable medical judgment” standard.

The lawyers also called out the board. Last month, the board’s response after being asked to intervene in court cases following the Cox decision. “We’re going to hold back on getting involved in anything until all these issues, at least at the judicial setting, are resolved,” the board chair Dr Sherif Zaafra told the Texas Tribune. “It wouldn’t be appropriate for us to start making any kind of movement or decisions while all that is out there still being adjudicated.”

In the petition, the lawyers called the board’s response “insufficient.” They added, “Delay in favor of litigation is at least as unacceptable to many pregnant females and their physicians.”

“It’s time for the Medical Board to get off the sidelines. The fact that life-threatening conditions related to pregnancy are driving women out of state for abortion care is not acceptable,” Steve Bresnen told the Texas Tribune.

“The Legislature, the Governor, the Supreme Court of Texas and physicians have asked for clarity and the TMB has the power to give it. There is no excuse for further delay,” he added.