HB2 – the omnibus abortion bill that thousands of people fought against and protested this summer – passed both the Texas Senate and House and Governor Rick Perry has signed it into law. Unless a current lawsuit against the law puts an injunction in place, most of the law will go into effect in 12 days, on October 29; the regulations on Ambulatory Surgical Centers will not go into effect for about another year.
One of the final steps in the process of rolling out this law is for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission to publish rules for the law. Basically, they read the law, interpret for themselves what the law actually says, and write rules that tell clinics and providers what the law means so that clinics and providers understand how to implement everything in the law correctly and legally.
We are currently in the middle of the 30-day public comment period where YOU, a citizen of Texas, can write to the Department of State Health Services (DSHS, a part of HHSC) and let them know how you think they should be interpreting this law, what the most fair and compassionate reading and understanding of HB2 is.
While HHSC and DSHS cannot do anything to stop HB2 from going into effect (it is already a law), they can help soften the impact. And you, by speaking up and using your voice during this 30-day public comment period (which only has 8 days left – until October 25), can help. Don’t miss this opportunity to once again show that 1) we do care about how abortion patients are treated in this state and 2) that we are not going away.
To streamline the commenting process, the coalition of organizations that instigated and organized much of this summer’s protests (like NARAL Pro-Choice TX, Whole Woman’s Health, Planned Parenthood, etc.) have created a page where you fill out relevant information and it is sent directly to the DSHS. The site is great because it suggests concrete things you can say to the them about how they could make the rules more compassionate.
If you want to submit comments on your own and not through the site I link to above, according to The Texas Register, this is where you send them (and they MUST be received by October 25):
Comments on the proposal may be submitted to Allison Hughes, Health Facilities Rules Coordinator, Health Care Quality Section, Division of Regulatory Services, Department of State Health Services, P.O. Box 149347, Mail Code 2822, Austin, Texas 78714-9347, (512) 834-6775 or by email to email@example.com. Please specify “Comments on abortion facility licensing rules” in the subject line. The department intends by this section to invite public comment on each of the standards that is incorporated by reference, as well as the amended abortion facility rules.