Doctors, women seek more clarity from Texas Medical Board on state abortion laws

The Texas Medical Board heard public comments wanting the board to clarify when doctors can legally perform abortions under the current law.

Earlier this year, the board gave a broad definition of what qualifies as a medical emergency, but there were calls for more specifics.

People urged the board to clarify when a doctor can legally perform an abortion under the state's near-total ban.

More than 30 people signed up to testify on Monday. They included doctors, women who have sued the state seeking clarity to the state's medical exception for performing an abortion and the lawyers who represent them.

"Texas women are often not receiving quality care due to physician fear and misunderstanding of the laws," said Dr. Ingrid Skop, an OBGYN.

After pressure from the Texas Supreme Court and an official petition, the TMB issued guidance in March laying out how the licensing agency would investigate complaints of prohibited abortions


Texas woman sues prosecutors who charged her with murder after she self-managed abortion

A Texas woman who was charged with murder over self-managing an abortion and spent two nights in jail has sued prosecutors along the U.S.-Mexico border who put the criminal case in motion before it was later dropped.

Doctors who perform life-saving abortions may soon be required to document whether they first tried to transfer the patient to another facility to avoid terminating the pregnancy.

It’s a move met with pushback by plaintiffs suing the state for clarity.

"We, as their legal team, believe that the board's proposal will only add further confusion to the situation that is unfolding in Texas," said Molly Duane, lead attorney for the Center for Reproductive Rights. "And for those reasons, we oppose the rules as written."

Among those who testified was Kate Cox, who left the state to receive an abortion elsewhere as the Texas Supreme Court rejected her argument for a medical exception.

"We should not force pregnant Texans to get sicker to wait for an inevitable miscarriage and go through childbirth to deliver a baby who has died or will certainly die," she said.

"It's because of people like you and everyone who is here that hopefully will help guide us to make the rule better," said TMB Executive Director Brint Carlton.

Constitutional law attorney David Coale says the bottom line is the board doesn't have any law-making authority, which limits what they can ultimately do.

"I'd be very surprised if they added something really substantive on to this that created meaningful carve outs and significant areas," he said. "Because that would open them up to claims they're allowing unlawful conduct."

The TMB will take Monday's feedback into consideration before it meets again in June when further discussion is expected.

The board's president did commit on Monday to making it possible for patients to file complaints against hospitals.