AUSTIN, Texas, March 25 (UPI) -- A bill advancing through the Texas Legislature could drastically decrease the state's number of legal abortion facilities, abortion rights advocates say.
Supporters of Senate Bill 537, which increases regulations for abortion facilities, say it will strengthen women's safety, but opponents call it a thinly veiled attempt to close 37 of 42 abortion facilities in Texas and would reduce access to legal abortion.
The bill requires abortions to be performed in what are called ambulatory surgical centers, and regulates specific sizes for room and doorways and infrastructure, including pipelines for anesthesia and sterilization equipment, The Texas Tribune, an online newspaper in Austin, reported Monday.
The majority of abortion facilities in Texas would not be in compliance with the new regulations.
"There is no recent spike in risk or safety incidents that this regulation is responding to. It's pure politics," said Amy Hagstrom Miller, chief executive officer of Whole Woman's Health, a firm that operates four abortion clinics, and one ambulatory surgical center which performs abortions, in Texas.
"I understand the suspicion but this really is about improving healthcare for women getting abortions," said Sen. Bob Deuell, a Greenville Republican who is co-author of the bill and a primary care physician.
The Senate Committee on Health and Human Services approved the bill last week, sending it to the full Senate for approval, the online newspaper noted.