By: Jackie Wang, Austin Bureau

The Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops issued an advisory Thursday asking parishes not to participate in volunteer efforts with anti-abortion group Texas Right to Life.

“We write to inform you of our concerns with Texas Right to Life and we urge parishes not to participate in their activities or allow the organization to use parish sites,” the bishops said in their advisory.

. . .

The bishops clarified that the Texas Alliance for Life and the Texans for Life Coalition maintain positions consistent with their own.

Texas Right to Life spokeswoman Melissa Conway did not respond to a request for comment at the time of publication.

By: Jackie Wang

AUSTIN — A federal judge on Monday blocked a controversial state law that requires miscarried or aborted fetuses to be cremated or buried.

U.S. District Court Judge David Ezra of San Antonio issued a preliminary injunction that bars Texas officials from carrying out the law, which would have taken effect Thursday.

The case grew out of an earlier lawsuit, brought by the Center for Reproductive Rights on behalf of Whole Woman’s Health and other abortion providers, to challenge a regulation from the Department of State Health Services that said fetal remains must be buried.

Proponents of the law say it allows the state to ensure fetuses are not treated like other medical waste. Joe Pojman, executive director of Texas Alliance for Life, said if the law goes into effect, it won’t change how many women have abortions. But plaintiffs argue the law would increase the cost of abortion, making it less accessible for women.

Pojman said he thinks the law has a good chance of being upheld, despite Monday’s preliminary injunction.

“The federal courts in Austin typically do not uphold the laws regarding abortion passed by the Legislature, but we do have very good track record of these laws being sustained by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals,” Pojman said.

By: John Savage

A federal district court judge on Thursday blocked a Texas law that would prevent doctors from performing the most common second-trimester abortion procedure. The law, passed by the Legislature this spring, was set to take effect Friday.

“The dismemberment procedure really is as grotesque and inhumane as anyone can imagine. The baby is killed in the process of being pulled limb from limb in the womb,“ Joe Pojman, executive director of Texas Alliance for Life, told The Dallas Morning News.
“The attorney general’s office made it clear to the judge that this law is not about banning abortions, it is just about banning one very inhumane method of killing the child,” he added.

Attorney General Ken Paxton is expected to appeal the ruling to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.

By: John Savage

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Tuesday filed a legal brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit to overturn a ruling that blocked Texas from cutting off state Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood.
“Texas acted to cut off major taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood because of its repugnant conduct,” the brief states. “Clear indications of Planned Parenthood’s adjustment of abortion procedures to procure and sell fetal body parts for research should be enough to reverse a district court’s egregious ruling.”

By: Eleanor Dearman, State government reporter

Joe Pojman, Texas Alliance for Life executive director, said the group expects the three pieces of legislation to pass because they had support from both chambers during the regular session.

“Special sessions can be very tricky because there’s a much shorter period of time to pass bills, and the governor has asked the Legislature to consider quite a large number of issues,” he said. “There are very good authors that are carrying [the bills]. At this moment we see no issues with the Legislature passing each of those three bills.”

By: Madlin Mekelburg, Austin bureau

The Texas House spent six hours Friday debating, amending and eventually passing a bill that would ban certain abortion procedures and require fetal tissue from abortions or miscarriages to be buried or cremated.

The bill started as a two-pronged proposal: It would regulate how fetal remains could be handled and prohibit “partial-birth” abortions. It also included a ban on the donation or sale of fetal tissue from an elective abortion.