Texas Medical Board may issue guidance on abortion exceptions

I trust you will forgive my skepticism about this.

The Texas Medical Board will consider language to clarify what qualifies as a medical exception to the state’s abortion laws at an upcoming March 22 board meeting. The meeting agenda was published in the Texas Register Thursday morning.

According to the medical board’s agenda, it will consider and take “possible action on rules regarding exceptions to the ban on abortions” at their upcoming meeting.

This comes after Texas attorneys and lobbyists Steve and Amy Bresnen filed a petition in January that asked the board to issue “clear guidance” about when an abortion is permitted under the law.

The Bresnens filed the petition, prompted by the Texas Supreme Court’s rejection of Kate Cox’s attempt to end her nonviable pregnancy last year. The Dallas woman had an abortion in another state after the Texas Supreme Court ruled that she did not qualify for a medical emergency abortion.

“We are hopeful that there is movement, and we know that this is just the first step in a long journey to justice,” Amy Bresnen said Thursday.

Texas laws ban nearly all abortions unless, “in the exercise of a reasonable medical judgment,” a doctor determines that the patient is experiencing “a life-threatening physical condition aggravated by, caused by, or arising from a pregnancy that places the female at risk of death or poses a serious risk of substantial impairment of a major bodily function.”


In a March 13 letter to the Bresnen’s obtained by The Texas Tribune, the board said they will consider the draft language proposed in the petition as well as alternate language.

In their January petition, the Bresnen’s also called on the board to identify steps doctors can take to ensure that their decisions meet legal standards for medical exceptions. The petition requested that the board ban complaints against doctors that are not supported by specific evidence proving that an abortion performed in Texas was illegal.

After draft language is considered, the board could publish a rule in the Texas Register regarding medical exceptions. There would be a 30-day public comment period to follow, ahead of a final rule.

See here and here for some background. I appreciate the effort – Lord knows, we’ve got to try to do what we can to improve the situation here – but it is still the case that no one has addressed the question of whether Ken Paxton will abide by these guidelines or not. The TMB can say what they want, they can go through the entire rigamarole and scrupulously document everything and follow existing law and precedent to the letter, and Ken Paxton can and in my opinion will say “Nice try, chumps, but the law on abortion is what I say it is, and I say it’s always illegal and anyone who wants to challenge that is going to get their ass into a ton of trouble”. Does anyone seriously doubt this?

And then I will say to the Bresnens what I’ve been saying to other Republicans who have been steamrolled by the Abbott/Paxton/theocrat machine: What are you going to do about that? Are you going to roll over and take it, or are you going to try to beat them at the ballot box in 2026? Maybe you see another way forward, but I sure don’t. And don’t wait for 2026, there’s lots to be done for this year, too.

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