More training for abortion providers gets House approval

abortion procedure room
Whole Woman's Health North Austin location from 2013 (KXAN file photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A rare non-controversial bill about abortion won approval Wednesday in the Texas House. The bill would require abortion provider employees to undergo training related to human trafficking, an issue law enforcement lists as a serious problem.

“This is a very desperate circumstance where these women are abused again and again,” said Joe Pojman from the Texas Alliance for Life. He said abortion providers should be trained to identify victims of sex slavery and know what to do. “They are being abused, getting pregnant, forced to have an abortion and abused again. We want to break that cycle and get women the help that they need.”

“Planned parenthood has been very proactive working on this training, all of their personnel,” said Donna Howard, D-Austin. She initially saw a red flag with this bill but was assured by the author who told her it improved training, not restrictions. “(We are trying) to control this horrific practice where we are victimizing people, victimizing women.”

House members said they were able to put politics aside and move safety for women forward. Texas peace officers already go through similar training, and many see this as just a start and want the training to be expanded to all health care workers next session. This bill needs final approval Thursday before it heads to the Senate.

The Texas Alliance for Life says there are only 20 abortion providers in the state. In 2013, lawmakers passed a set of restrictions forcing most clinics to close. The bill bans abortions after 20 weeks and requires doctors who perform them to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital.

On the other side of the Capitol, the Texas Senate passed a bill Wednesday which restricts private insurance companies from covering abortions. Under the proposal, no private insurance plan in Texas would include abortion coverage, unless a person decides to buy supplemental coverage. There is an exception for “life threatening situations.”

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