There has been a big win this week for the human rights of the unborn with new laws protecting unborn babies and their mothers passed in Texas, USA.



A bill regulating abortions was passed convincingly in the Texas lower house last Wednesday by  96-49 votes, and on Friday passed in the Senate 19 votes to 11. This comes after it failed to pass last month because of a filibuster and angry protests by pro-abortion activists. The passing of the bill now makes Texas one of the safest places for unborn babies and their mothers.



The new laws mean that:

a) Most abortions on unborn children will be banned after 20 weeks of pregnancy, at which point scientific evidence shows babies can feel pain. An exception to this ban is granted when it is to protect the life and medical health of the mother or when the child has a "severe fetal abnormality."



b) Safety standards at Texas abortion clinics will increase to the level of ambulatory surgical centres (ASCs), of which there are 420 in Texas, including six that conduct abortions. This would treat abortion facilities in the same manner as other ambulatory care facilities.



c) Doctors who perform abortions will have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of their clinic to treat life-threatening complications after botched abortions.



d) A woman's access to abortion-inducing pills will be limited by requiring the 18,000 RU-486 abortions performed each year in the state be conducted according to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) safety standards.



This ensures a physician has greater oversight over their administration, improving safety for the mother. In the US, eight women have died from bacterial infections following an RU-486 chemical abortion administered to an off-label protocol. No women have died from such infections when following the FDA-approved protocol.



Whilst it would have been ideal if the law changes had gone further,  the Texas measures at least acknowledge the dangers to women of the R-486 drug and seek to redress this to some extent.



The regulation of abortion clinics as outlined in the new laws is a measure that would effectively make them safer by allowing, for instance, for medical transportation in the event of emergencies. A woman who went to convicted US abortionist Kermit Gosnell for the procedure died after her heart stopped beating on the operating table. Her life may have been saved if the doors of Gosnell's clinic had not been locked and the hallways were wide enough to facilitate the gurney needed to transport her to a hospital by ambulance.



The Texas abortion law reform follows similar changes in the state of Virginia earlier this year which, passed regulations to strictly monitor abortion clinics and ensure abortion providers meet the latest standards set for newly constructed hospitals.



While pro-abortion activists claim that the new laws would force most abortion clinics across the state to shut, those in support of the new legislation argue that the bill is necessary to ensure women’s health is protected and foetuses are kept from feeling pain.



A recent HuffPost/YouGov poll shows 59 per cent of Americans would favour a federal law banning most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, and almost half believe abortion to be morally wrong.