Texas lawmakers are still referencing a highly edited undercover video from 2015 purporting to show Planned Parenthood officials selling fetal tissue.
The latest reference was regarding a bill from state Sen. Charles Schwertner that aims to limit the use of fetal tissue from abortions.
Senate Bill 8, among other things, prohibits the sale or donation of fetal tissue if it comes from an abortion. Schwertner, R-Georgetown, argues that if women having an abortion are given the option of donating their fetal tissue to research, it could create a financial incentive for providers.
“You know the elective aspect of it is what is concerning,” Schwertner said during a Senate Health and Human Services committee meeting Wednesday. “Elective plus profit motive can lead to situations in which fetal tissue donation is abused, and profiting for monetary gain occurs.”
State Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, says he doesn’t see an issue with allowing women who have abortions to donate tissue.
“I would disagree with you that it creates some sort of special opportunity there,” he said.
Schwertner said he saw “with the videos” that there was reason for concern. But Watson disputed that and said the videos didn't show there was a problem.
“Those videos have been discredited,” he said. “You keep mentioning them, but they have been discredited.”
Schwertner said he believes the conversation that took place in the video regarding fetal tissue was enough to prompt him to want to regulate it further.
“The discussion was still occurring in those videos between abortion providers about alterations of the abortion procedure that would allow for a higher yield of tissue or quality of tissue,” he said.
The video was recorded and circulated by anti-abortion activists a few years ago. A grand jury looked into the video and determined Planned Parenthood hadn’t broken any laws, but that hasn't stopped Republican lawmakers from taking action.
Last year, the state issued a new rule requiring health care facilities to bury or cremate fetal remains from all abortions and miscarriages. The rule was put on hold while a court hears a lawsuit over it.
State officials also recently tried to kick Planned Parenthood out of the state’s Medicaid program – but a court is looking at that, too.
Blake Rocap with NARAL Pro-Choice Texas said this latest action could jeopardize medical research in the state.
“I think the viability of any research to be done on fetal tissue would be drawn into question because of the limited ability for research institutions to acquire it,” he said.
Rocap said that’s because the only women who would be able to donate fetal tissue would be those who had to terminate a pregnancy because their life was in danger.
“Luckily, we live in the Western world and those situations are not common, so there is very little tissue," he said.
In addition to SB 8, a Senate committee also discussed other bills related to abortions in the state. One bill was focused on methods of disposing fetuses. Another would prohibit a procedure sometimes used in second-trimester abortions.