By Jack Fink

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DALLAS (CBS11) – Texas Republican leaders vow to pass new restrictions on abortions in the Lone Star State.

The issue is one of Lt. Governor Dan Patrick’s top ten legislative priorities for the upcoming session that begins at the State Capitol on January 10.

In his news release Patrick said, “We will continue to fight to protect the dignity and sanctity of life by increasing criminal penalties for buying or selling human fetal tissue, among other protections, and we will ban partial birth abortion in Texas.”

Kyleen Wright of Texans for Life Coalition in Arlington said regarding partial birth abortions, she and others didn’t realize the state relied on federal law.

“It was somewhat of a surprise,” said Wright. “When you have federal legislation and law, that’s incumbent upon federal agencies to enforce and prosecute and we did not have a supportive President and we want to make sure that is settled in the future.”

Wright said if lawmakers approve, fines levied against those who violate the law would increase.

Kelly Hart of Planned Parenthood in Dallas said, “Every legislative session, we see attacks from our legislative leadership to curtail access to prevent women’s healthcare and critical access to a legal, constitutionally-protected medical procedure. In my mind, we need to stop having legislators make medical decisions. We need to bring medical decision-making back into the doctors office and the decisions need to be made between doctors and women and the people in their lives who they trust.”

In 2013, the state legislature banned abortions after 20 weeks with the exception for fetuses that had severe abnormalities.

Now, HB 87 proposed by Republican Matt Schaefer of Tyler would allow abortions in the third trimester if a doctor determines the “fetus isn’t viable” or “the abortion is necessary to prevent the death or a substantial risk of serious impairment to the physical or mental health of the woman.”

Under the bill, the doctor who performs the abortion would also have to certify to the state in writing within 30 days of the procedure why it was necessary.

Other proposals would require abortion clinics to dispose of fetal remains in certain ways, and submit monthly reports to the state on how many abortions are performed.

Governor Greg Abbott and Lt. Governor Patrick have also said they will pass legislation that will increase criminal penalties for buying or selling human fetal tissue.

The federal government already bans the practice.

In June of this year, the U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5-3 vote, overturned some provisions of the state’s laws passed in 2013.

They included the requirements that abortion clinics in Texas meet standards similar to hospitals and that doctors who perform abortions had admitting privileges in hospitals within 30 miles of their clinics.

Kyleen Wright says the Supreme Court’s ruling will serve as a guide to any new legislation proposed in Texas. “It’s normal for the lawmakers to be looking for some of these things that we can still do under this new ruling that we got this summer.”

Kelly Hart of Planned Parenthood vowed, “We will do what we’ve always done. We will bring this to the attention of the people and we will do everything we can to stop unconstitutional laws from being passed in the first place.”

(©2016 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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