Texas Passes Abortion Restriction Bill
Republicans in the Texas Legislature passed an omnibus abortion bill that is one of the most restrictive in the nation, but Democrats vowed Saturday to fight both in the courts and the ballot box as they used the measure to rally their supporters.
More than 2,000 demonstrators filled the Capitol building in Austin to oppose the bill, and state troopers drug six out of the Senate chamber for trying to disrupt the debate. The Republican majority ultimately passed the bill unchanged just before midnight, 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, though, promised a fight in the courts.
"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.
Democrats offered 20 amendments to the bill, which will ban abortions after 20 weeks, require abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital and require all abortions take place in surgical centers. They ranged from exceptions for rape and incest to allowing doctors more leeway in prescribing abortion-inducing drugs. But Republicans would have none of it.
The bill is just one of many across the nation championed by anti-abortion groups set on a constitutional challenge to Roe vs Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court decision guaranteeing a woman's right to decide on an abortion before the fetus is viable outside the womb.
Texas falls under the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, which has shown a willingness to accept more stringent limits on abortions. Passing the law also pleases Christian conservatives who make up the majority of Republican primary voters.
But the measure has also sparked protests in Texas not seen in least 20 years, with thousands of abortion rights supporters flooding the Capitol to draw out normally boring committee hearings and disrupting key votes. Protesters finished a filibuster started by Democratic Sen. Wendy Davis of Fort Worth by jeering for the last 15 minutes of the first special session, effectively killing the bill.