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Lawmaker seeks to overturn abortion waiting period

A state lawmaker wants to make it easier for women to get abortions in Texas.

It was announced Wednesday that a bill will be filed in an attempt to overturn the controversial abortion waiting period.

Most observers at the state capitol agree chances are pretty slim for this effort to strike down the abortion waiting period law. Instead it seems this all about trying to make a statement.

The speaker's committee room next to the house chamber is where Representative Jessica Farrar scheduled her Wednesday morning news conference. It may be the closest thing to a full public hearing she is going to get on the bill she plans to file.

"I'm going to be really frank, I'm not expecting anything, a miracle to happen, but what I'm hoping to do is lift the level of discussion," Farrar said.

The Houston Democrat is using a new UT study to support legislation to overturn the 24 hour abortion waiting period law.

"I think it's just ridiculous that we do things to women to manipulate their minds instead of trusting that they already have made a very difficult decision, and the other is we don't put the woman first," Farrar said.

According to a report, researchers interviewed about 300 Texas women seeking abortions between August and December of last year.

The study indicated the women traveled an average of 42 miles to get to an abortion clinic. Everyone in the survey eventually had abortions and nearly a third claim the waiting period had a negative effect on their emotional wellbeing.

During the news conference a quote was read by one of the lead researchers from a woman who took part in the study.

"She said, at the end of the day a woman gets abortion, so we can say we have abortion services, but waiting 24 hours, for that 24 hours it is not my right to have an abortion. For that 24 hours you are holding back my right," said Dr. Daniel Grossman.

Those who support the 24 hour waiting period say the law is doing exactly what it was drafted to do.

When it was approved two years ago several moderate Democrats even voted for it.

"I think there was almost 2/3rds of the Legislature that support that, which is very uncommon particularly of an issue of this nature," said Jonathan Saenz with the nonprofit group Texas Values, who took part in the original debates in 2011.

He doubts the law is at risk of being overturned in this session.

"Because this is a decision, it's a big issue, and it impacts the lives of two different people," Saenz said.

As a side issue Representative Farrar says the study can be used to justify increasing funding for health programs designed to help low income women. That effort just may have a good chance of being successful in this session.

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