Texas Republicans pass new abortion limits

by Chris Tomlinson
Sen. Sylvia Garcia, D-Houston, left, throws up her hands as she leaves the Senate Chamber with Sen. Wendy Davis, D-FortWorth, right, after the Texas Senate passed an abortion bill, Friday, July 12, 2013, in Austin, Texas. The bill will require doctors to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, only allow abortions in surgical centers, dictate when abortion pills are taken and ban abortions after 20 weeks. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

(AP)—Republicans in the Texas Legislature passed an omnibus abortion bill that is one of the most restrictive in the U.S., but Democrats have vowed to fight in the courts and at the ballot box as they used the measure to rally their supporters.

More than 2,000 demonstrators filled the Capitol building in Austin on Saturday to voice their opposition to the bill, including six protesters who were dragged out of the Senate chamber by state troopers for trying to disrupt the debate. The Republican majority passed the bill unchanged just before midnight Friday, with all but one Democrat voting against it.

"Today the Texas Legislature took its final step in our historic effort to protect life," said Gov. Rick Perry, who will sign the bill into law in the next few days. "This legislation builds on the strong and unwavering commitment we have made to defend life and protect women's health."

Democrats promised a to the measure, which will ban abortions after 20 weeks, require doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital and require all abortions to take place in surgical centers. Only five out of 42 existing abortion clinics in Texas meet the requirements to be a surgical center, and clinic owners say they can't afford to upgrade or relocate.

"There will be a lawsuit. I promise you," Dallas Sen. Royce West said on the Senate floor, raising his right hand as if taking an oath.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry said Saturday that the abortion bill awaiting his signature is constitutional and will withstand court challenges. A spokesman for Perry said the bill could be signed midweek.

"We wouldn't have passed it if we didn't think it was constitutional," Perry told reporters. The governor said some people say the measure goes too far "but most Texands don't."

Democrats proposed 20 amendments to the bill, including making exceptions in cases of rape and incest and allowing doctors more leeway in prescribing abortion-inducing drugs. But Republicans would have none of it.

The bill is one of many championed in Republican-controlled states this year by anti-abortion groups set on challenging the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling, which established a woman's right to get an abortion until the point in which a fetus could viably survive outside the womb. A fetus is generally considered viable at 22 to 24 weeks.

Abortion rights advocates fill the rotunda of the State Capitol as the Senate nears the vote on Friday night, July 12, 2013. Texas senators were wrapping up debate on sweeping abortion restrictions Friday night and were poised to vote on a measure after weeks of protests. (AP Photo/Tamir Kalifa)

Texas falls under the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, which has shown a willingness to accept more stringent limits on abortions.

By passing the new restrictions, Republicans pleased the Christian conservatives who make up the majority of the party's primary voters. But they inspired abortion rights supporters to protest at the state Capitol in numbers not seen in Texas in at least 20 years.

Demonstrators packed normally boring committee hearings to voice their anger over the abortion bill and managed to disrupt key votes. They finished a lengthy filibuster —a marathon one-woman effort to use procedural rules to delay a final vote—by Democratic Sen. Wendy Davis, of Fort Worth, by jeering for the last 15 minutes of the first special legislative session, temporarily killing the bill.

That's when Perry called lawmakers back for round two. But opponents said the fight is far from over and used the popular anger to register and organize Democratic voters.

"Let's make sure that tonight is not an ending point, it's a beginning point for our future, our collective futures, as we work to take this state back." Davis told 2,000 adoring supporters after the bill passed.

The Texas Republican Party, meanwhile, celebrated what they consider to be a major victory that makes Texas "a nationwide leader in pro-life legislation."

Texas Republicans said Democrats were dreaming if they thought they might succeed in taking control of the state.

"Passage of (the bill) is proof that Texans are conservative and organized and we look forward to working with our amazing Republican leadership in the Texas Legislature as they finish the special session strong," a party statement said.

Friday's debate took place before a packed gallery of demonstrators, with anti-abortion activists wearing blue and abortion-rights supporters wearing orange. Security was tight, and state troopers reported confiscating bottles of urine and feces as they worked to prevent another attempt to stop the Republican majority from passing the proposal.

Those arrested or removed from the chamber included four women who tried to chain themselves to a railing in the gallery while singing, "All we are saying is give choice a chance." One of the women was successful in chaining herself, leading to a 10-minute recess.

Sen. Glen Hegar of Katy, the bill's Republican author, argued that all abortions, including those induced with medications, should take place in an ambulatory surgical center in case of complications.

Democrats pointed out that childbirth is more dangerous than an abortion and there have been no serious problems with women taking abortion drugs at home.

Cecile Richards, the daughter of former Texas Gov. Anne Richards and president of Planned Parenthood, said Texas Republicans and opponents won this political round—but it could cost them down the road.

"All they have done is built a committed group of people across this state who are outraged about the treatment of women and the lengths to which this Legislature will go to take women's health care away," she said.

The dedication of those activists will be tested during the 2014 elections. Democrats have not won a statewide seat in Texas since 1994, the longest such losing streak in the nation.

5 /5 (1 vote)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Texas lawmakers approve abortion restrictions

Jun 24, 2013

(AP)—Republicans armed with Bible verses have given preliminary approval to some of the strictest abortion regulations in the country as time runs out on the Texas special legislative session.

Texas House passes abortion bill; Senate next stop

Jul 10, 2013

(AP)—The Texas House has approved new abortion limits in a second special session, less than two weeks after Senate Republicans failed to finish work on the bill amid a filibuster and raucous protests.

Texas abortion bill falls after challenge

Jun 26, 2013

(AP)—Hundreds of jeering protesters helped stop Texas lawmakers from passing one of the toughest abortion measures in the U.S., shouting down Senate Republicans and forcing them to miss a midnight deadline ...

Recommended for you

Testosterone testing has increased in recent years

4 hours ago

(HealthDay)—There has been a recent increase in the rate of testosterone testing, with more testing seen in men with comorbidities associated with hypogonadism, according to research published online Nov. ...

AMA: Hospital staff should consider impact of CMS rule

13 hours ago

(HealthDay)—Hospital medical staff members need to consider the impact of a final rule issued by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) that revised the conditions of participation for hospitals ...

User comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

freethinking
1.4 / 5 (10) Jul 14, 2013
Great and great picture of Sen. Sylvia Garcia as you see the evil and hate in her face.

I would ask, would these same people who want to kill an late term unwanted unborn baby, be in favor of killing a just born baby by cutting its spinal cord or plunging scissors into the babies head?
The_Science
1.8 / 5 (5) Jul 14, 2013
Ah yes, Texas. The pro-life state. Wait, aren't they the ones who just executed their 500th inmate? What a bunch of hypocrites.

And freethinking, you should change your name. You sound more like a nothinking.
freethinking
1.4 / 5 (10) Jul 15, 2013
No Progressives are a bunch of hypocrites. They will protect and defend rapists and murderers, yet kill unborn babies.

So TS, If a baby survives an abortion and is born alive and viable, could you watch it die on the cold table? How about seeing a baby at 39 weeks that is half born, except for its head, could you watch without crying as the Abortionists jabs a scissor into the babies brains?

Yet you have issues with a murderer Kimberly McCarthy, being executed for the 1997 robbery, beating and fatal stabbing of her 71-year-old neighbor a retired college psychology professor Dorothy Booth. Booth was kind enough and had agreed to give McCarthy a cup of sugar before she was attacked with a butcher knife and candelabra at in her home. This nice murderer then cut off Booth's finger to remove her wedding ring. There were three other murders she was linked to.

Cry for a murderer not the victim or an Innocent baby....an uncaring hypocrite you must be..
The_Science
2.3 / 5 (6) Jul 16, 2013
So much for pro-life nonetheless.......if they were real followers of Jesus they wouldn't take a life, no? So are they pro-life, or not? Apparently not........tell me, is the state of Texas considered a murderer for killing a human being? I think so!! Again.....hypocrites
freethinking
1.4 / 5 (9) Jul 16, 2013
TS, If you think you can equate the killing of a brutal murderer, who was convicted of murder by her peers, and who was given 16 years before her death to that of killing an innocent baby you have major issues.

How about this, we make the mother get approval of 12 people to have her baby killed, and if the 12 agree that she has the right to kill the baby, she has to wait 16 years. Fair is Fair right? If it takes 16 years and several trial to kill a brutal murderer, then it should be just as difficult to kill a innocent baby?

How about this, we execute our criminals using the same techniques used to kill babies. We can rip the prisoners arms and legs off, then crush their skulls, or we can put them in a solution which burns off their skin, or we can hold them down while someone jabs scissors into their brains then twisting the scissors to make sure the criminal is dead.

If you agree we should stop killing babies, I'll agree we should stop killing murderers?
freethinking
1.4 / 5 (9) Jul 16, 2013
TS, If you think you can equate the killing of a brutal murderer, who was convicted of murder by her peers, and who was given 16 years before her death to that of killing an innocent baby you have major issues.

How about this, we make the mother get approval of 12 people to have her baby killed, and if the 12 agree that she has the right to kill the baby, she has to wait 16 years. Fair is Fair right? If it takes 16 years and several trial to kill a brutal murderer, then it should be just as difficult to kill a innocent baby?

How about this, we execute our criminals using the same techniques used to kill babies. We can rip the prisoners arms and legs off, then crush their skulls, or we can put them in a solution which burns off their skin, or we can hold them down while someone jabs scissors into their brains then twisting the scissors to make sure the criminal is dead.

If you agree we should stop killing babies, I'll agree we should stop killing murderers?
freethinking
1.4 / 5 (9) Jul 16, 2013
Sorry everyone for double posts......
freethinking
1.4 / 5 (9) Jul 16, 2013
TS, which Jesus are you talking about? Are you not an atheist?
The_Science
2 / 5 (4) Jul 16, 2013
The point is not what that person has done. They did some horrible things. Texas is still MURDERING THEM. Pro-life to me seems to mean ALL life......It just doesn't make sense to me to be pro-life and then go and kill a (bad) person....

How do you know what my beliefs are
DirtySquirties
1.5 / 5 (8) Jul 20, 2013
Need to find an alternative to abortions. Figure out how to transplant babies into other women or into some artificial environment to allow them to grow without a human. Then we don't have any abortions and the mother can walk away if she isn't fit to raise a child, for whatever reason.

Kinda sucks for the kid, but at least the kid is alive.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.