House hearing turns into tense debate over controversial Texas abortion law

·Senior Writer
·3 min read

The fight over abortion access was debated on Capitol Hill Thursday during a hearing about the controversial new Texas law that bans such procedures after six weeks and makes no exceptions for cases of rape or incest.

Dr. Ghazaleh Moayedi, a Texas-based ob-gyn, told the House Judiciary Committee that Texas Senate Bill 8 — which took effect on Sept. 1 after the Supreme Court declined to block it — has "completely decimated" abortion access in the Longhorn State.

Moayedi said that women with "devastating pregnancy diagnoses" are unable to get care in Texas, so she's been forced to help coordinate their care out of state.

"It's a nightmare," Moayedi said. "I never thought medical care would come to this."

In her written testimony, Moayedi called the law "hateful and cruel."

"As a physician, I know firsthand that abortion saves lives," she said. "For the thousands of people I’ve cared for, abortion is a blessing. Abortion is love."

A demonstrator protests outside the Supreme Court as it hears challenges to a controversial new Texas abortion law.
A demonstrator outside the Supreme Court as it hears challenges to the new Texas abortion law. (Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Moayedi also testified that she and her family have been the recipients of death threats from anti-abortion activists.

“I don’t have to imagine what it is like to have violent people stalking me because that is my life every single day as an abortion provider in Texas,” she said. “It’s very disturbing for me to hear people claiming to be pro-life actively threatening my life.”

Catherine Glenn Foster, president and CEO of Americans United for Life, an anti-abortion advocacy group, told the House panel that abortion access is "killing" disguised as public policy.

"Abortion is the violent tearing apart of helpless children limb by limb," Foster said. "Abortion is a cancer upon America. Abortion must end."

She called arguments against the Texas law "frivolous."

Later, during a tense exchange, Foster was asked by Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., to affirm that the Texas law makes no exceptions for cases of rape or incest.

Foster reluctantly did, but added: "The killing of a baby for the crimes of his or her father is never justice."

Republicans on the committee used the hearing to make broader arguments against abortion.

Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, described the dismemberment of a fetus in detail. Rep. Michelle Fischbach, R-Minn., held up what she said was the model of a 10-week fetus. (“Looks a lot like a little baby to me,” Fischbach said.)

An anti-abortion demonstrator protests outside the Supreme Court.
An anti-abortion demonstrator protests outside the Supreme Court. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

On Monday, the Supreme Court heard two challenges to the Texas law, one brought by abortion providers in the state and the other by the Justice Department. After hearing nearly three hours of arguments, the majority of justices seemed open to allowing the abortion providers to sue, while signaling skepticism about the federal government’s case.

If the high court does allow the providers to sue, those challenges would proceed through lower courts. But the issue of the Texas law's constitutionality would remain unsettled.

In December, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a case that challenges the constitutionality of Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban and is widely seen as a test case to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Thursday’s hearing, which began more than two hours later than scheduled, was interrupted by House votes, forcing the panel to recess for more than two hours.

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