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Lege 81 update: Inquest 2, Modernity 0 

N.B.: Yes, I owe you a followup digital-billboard-study post, but then all this shit keeps happening at the Capitol, and closer to home. Monday, Scout's honor.

It was a tough day at the Pink Dome for common sense and self-determination. One reason Texas women ought to be less enthusiastic about secession than their boot-scootin' counterparts: they could fare much worse if Houston's Dan Patrick were suddenly promoted from State Senator to Senator of the Republic.

Patrick is the author of the abortion ultrasound bill we've reported on (scroll down here), and which has passed the Senate. And while it's considerably different from its once-identical companion bill in the House, it's still a meddlesome thing between a woman and her doctor. In the latest version, it is now optional for the woman to view and listen to an ultrasound before having an abortion, but she must sign a statement noting that it was offered, and that she's refusing it. Reproductive rights activists say the language is confusing, and may mean that she can refuse an ultrasound altogether, although according to Planned Parenthood, most clinics that perform abortions require an ultrasound for medical reasons -- they just didn't try to force women to view them. Patrick isn't a doctor, but he likes to fuck with them on TV (yes, you can watch your lege in action on the internets, at legis.state.tx.us).

The House State Affairs Committee is expected take up Corte's HB36 early next week.

San Antonio's Senator Leticia Van de Putte was unable to secure final passage today for her attempt to undo Texas's number-one ranking for repeat teen pregnancies. Since the Senate passed a bill intended to "shame women into changing their mind," she said, "We might want to take some measures that would actually reduce the number of abortions that occur."

The Senator said she plans to try to get the votes she needs Monday, but this afternoon the bill was saddled with an unfriendly amendment -- by none other than Patrick. The intent of the legislation would allow teen mothers to access family-planning services and contraception without their parents' consent, but Patrick's amendment excepts teen parents who still live at home (let's set aside for a moment the vexing question of proving that you don't live with your parents -- do you show up at the clinic with two utility bills, a birth certificate, and a notarized affidavit from a witness?).

"We're one of only one or two states who make a 16 or 17 year old who has already had a baby get her parents' permission" to obtain birth control, said Van de Putte. She said she agrees that teens who aren't yet parents should have to get their parents' consent for family-planning services, because it gives the parents a heads-up.

"But I think parents who are now grandparents know their children are sexually active.”

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