New medical technology is driving abortion law change

Posted Saturday, Jul. 06, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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The recent meltdown in the Texas Senate has attracted lots of attention, almost all of it focused on the politics, personalities and parliamentary procedures of the debate.

There have been discussions about who created the ruckus in the Senate gallery, including a surprising revelation that it involved the International Socialist Organization and Occupy Austin movements.

What has been lost in the political coverage is the true purpose of the bill. The reforms contained in the abortion-related legislation that most lawmakers support reflect modern medical advances and common-sense safety improvements aimed at protecting women and children alike.

The issue hits especially close to my heart this year. My wife, Robin, and I have three wonderful children, with our youngest now in high school. But this year we were privileged to live through a difficult and blessed pregnancy and delivery with my longtime chief of staff, Mia Garza McCord, and her husband, John.

Mia’s due date was in July, so she planned to work through the January-June legislative session, with ample flexibility for any medical and personal needs that might arise.

But in late March, those plans went out the window because of a dangerous spike in blood pressure known as “preeclampsia.”

From Mia’s blog posts: “March 27, 2013, the first day I realized something was wrong … my feet and arms had swollen to more than 2xs their normal size. April 1, 2013, my doctor put me on bed rest as a precaution.

“By April 8, 2013, I was released from bed rest and able to go back to the job I love. … Little did I know that it would be my first and last day back in that beautiful pink building. That evening, my health took a turn for the worse. My incredible husband rushed me to the hospital where it quickly became evident that this was serious.

“April 8th is the day that our lives, our priorities, our perspectives forever changed. I still vividly remember the team of labor and delivery doctors at University Medical Center Brackenridge gathered around my bed going into details of the severe preeclampsia my body was working so hard to fight. My head spun as they said, ‘the only cure is delivery of the baby.’ Delivery? I was just 26 weeks pregnant. What did that mean for our son? Why could I not just push through and keep him in as long as possible? We hadn’t even picked a middle name for Baby John. April 10th, 7:30am, we were told it was time. Confused and scared do not even begin to describe the emotion going through our minds. Reassured by doctor after doctor that both Baby John and I would be OK, we went into delivery.”

Weighing in at just 1 pound, 4 ounces, Baby John Mark McCord was indeed born April 10. His original due date was July 17.

The weeks since then have been truly gut-wrenching for Mia, John and their family and friends. John clung to life, some days slipping away and some days gaining strength.

I’m pleased to report that Baby John is due to be released from the hospital soon and is on the road to growth and good health.

As the McCord’s story demonstrates, babies delivered in their second trimester are increasingly likely to survive.

The pro-life legislation expected to pass the Legislature this month limits abortions after five months of pregnancy to cases of saving the life or preventing irreversible physical impairment to the mother, or to babies with severe fetal abnormality.

To improve women’s health and safety, lawmakers want to put abortion facilities on the same regulatory footing as ambulatory surgical centers, those performing procedures generally not requiring an overnight hospital stay such as cataract surgery, cosmetic surgery or colonoscopies.

To help guard against medical emergencies for the mother or child, the doctors performing abortions at those facilities must have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital providing ob/gyn services.

Stronger health and safety standards and restrictions after five months of pregnancy are in part reactions to the grisly case of Philadelphia abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, who in May was convicted of three counts of first-degree murder for the death of three babies and involuntary manslaughter in the death of a woman who died after an anesthesia overdose during a 2009 abortion. We cannot allow that to occur in Texas.

Medical science has come a long way since the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade abortion ruling 40 years ago.

Moms like Mia, who delivered in their second trimester, had little or no hope of seeing their babies survive in 1973.

Today, micro-premature babies can survive and live great lives.

Most Texans and Texas lawmakers believe our laws should be strengthened to protect the safety and lives of mothers and children and to give more Texans the right to life just like little John Mark McCord.

State Sen. Kelly Hancock, R-North Richland Hills, represents Senate District 9, which includes portions of Tarrant and Dallas counties.

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