Some Details on That Questionnaire Lawmakers Want Women To Fill Out Before Abortions

Last week we told you about a questionnaire that Arlington state Rep. Bill Zedler wants Texas women to have to fill out before they can get an abortion, the answers to which would eventually show up in some state-run internet database. We asked for a copy, but Phil Fountain, a Zedler staffer, tells us it doesn't exist yet.

He was, however, kind enough to send over a copy of the amendment, which details what questions would be asked if Zedler's amendment becomes law; you can view it after the jump.

Richmond Rep. John Zerwas, who authored the other anti-abortion bill in the House right now, said that the Zedler bill seems designed to gather information that would help anti-abortion activists sue abortion providers. As it's written now, it'll probably lead to some HIPAA confidentiality suits from pissed-off women instead, especially with the passage of the Texas Medical Privacy Act by Governor Rick Perry in 2001.

Actually, the proposed questionnaire would include two forms: an "abortion reporting form" completed by both the patient and her and doctor, and a "complication reporting form," completed by the doctor.

What information would women have to provide about themselves? Not their name, of course. Just their age, ethnicity, marital status, the municipality in which they live, highest level of education, age of the man who did the impregnating ("father of the unborn child," in their language), method of contraception (the shitty kind, apparently), reason for the abortion (although they can decline to respond to that one), the number of previous live births, miscarriages and abortions, who referred the patient to the physician, how the abortion will be paid for, and whether the patients has read the required "printed information" about abortion, seen a sonogram, listened to the fetal heart monitor, and had all of it explained to them by the doctor. Doctors have to fill the rest of the form, which is similarly detailed.

The language of the bill mandates that the "the department shall post on the department 's Internet website the statistical data aggregated" from the questionnaire. So does that mean the data will be available to the public, or on some employees-only section of the website? Why exactly would we all need access to other people's medical information, anyway?

I called Fountain to clarify.

"Whatever the amendment says is how it'll work," he told me. He was pretty sure the actual completed forms wouldn't be posted publicly, but he wasn't sure about the data they contained. I said that publicizing the data at all seemed like a confidentiality violation. He said that was a "good question," and promised Rep. Zedler would call back to discuss it.

We'll let you know if that happens -- in the meantime, take a look at the the full amendment below.
SB 7 Zedler Amendment

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Anna Merlan
Contact: Anna Merlan