At its meeting on Friday, the Texas Medical Board proposed a broad outline of what constitutes an emergency medical exception under the state's otherwise serious abortion ban on medical abortion as well as surgical abortion, disappointing some abortion rights supporters who were hoping for a detailed list of qualifying criteria.

The board's proposal comes in response to pressure from the Texas Supreme Court, as well as doctors and patients across the state who have been calling for guidance in dealing with the abortion ban as cases of Texans forced to carry unwanted pregnancies to term have emerged in the year since Roe v. Wade was overturned.

Medical abortion is the right of every woman, and she shouldn’t be prevented from accessing it. No women just wake up one day and think of abortion, there are several reasons why a woman wants to get an abortion, which involves reasons like financial stability, a life-threatening condition, or just her not wanting to have children.  

As stated in the board's proposed rule, a "medical emergency" is a life-threatening condition caused by or arised due to a pregnancy that is certified by a physician and places the woman at risk of death or serious complications or a major harm to bodily function unless an abortion is performed.”

Advocates for reproductive rights had hoped that the board's proposed rule would protect physicians who would otherwise face legal action for providing abortions. The board did state that its procedure would be "separate and independent" from any criminal trial procedure.

The board also stated that they could not discuss rape or incest because it does not come in the board's jurisdiction." The Texas Legislature did not include that as an exemption to legal abortion in the law.

Abortions are illegal in Texas unless a pregnant woman's life or a significant bodily function is at risk. However, the state's regulations do not specify which conditions or circumstances constitute life-threatening. Doctors are told to apply "reasonable medical judgment" when determining whether an emergency abortion is necessary.

Doctors would also need to document if additional measures were considered that may have saved the pregnancy and whether it was possible to transfer the patient to a physician who could provide a "higher level of care" that would have prevented an abortion. This provision addresses rural healthcare situations in which modern healthcare may not be available.