The Texas abortion bill that was defeated last Tuesday after a filibuster by Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, passed its first hurdle in the Texas House of Representatives. The abortion bill, formerly Senate Bill 5, made its way through the committee, and the House will vote on the bill next week.
Barring any surprises, the Texas abortion bill, now called House Bill 2, that was defeated by Sen. Davis’ filibuster, will reach the Senate well ahead of this special session of the legislature’s deadline. The abortion bill was introduced late into the first special session, and, with the House passing the bill on Monday and not Sunday, the Senate could not vote on it until Tuesday with a midnight deadline looming for any vote. Davis was able to filibuster for more than 12 hours and with the chaos surrounding the end of the filibuster led to the vote occurring just after midnight. Following the defeat, Texas Gov. Rick Perry ordered a new 30-day special session of the legislature, which included the abortion bill among the items to be voted on.
The vote to pass the bill for a full House vote next week was propelled by the Republican majority, the Associated Press reports. The bill made it quickly out of the committee as the public hearing session was limited to just eight hours, with only 100 people, out of the 1,100 who signed up, able to discuss the bill with the committee. Republicans also blocked any attempts by Democrats to add amendments to the abortion bill.
Outside of the state capitol, supporters and opponents gathered to voice their opinions peacefully. AP reports no arrests or reports of violence were filed during Tuesday’s session. While the rally outside was peaceful, it was a rather boisterous affair. The blog Cahnman’s Musings recorded one portion of the rally, during which it claims pro-choice supporters were chanting “Hail Satan” to a group of pro-life supporters singing “Amazing Grace.” The video, later picked up by the Blaze, can be viewed below.
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The abortion bill would ban abortions after 20 weeks and would include new restrictions that would require any doctors to perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the clinic. The procedure itself would be limited to surgical clinics, and the 42 abortion clinics currently operating in Texas would need to upgrade their facilities to become surgical clinics. Opponents of the bill say the restrictions would close 37 out of the 42 clinics, while supporters say the new restrictions would lead to better treatment and safety for women.
Only five of the 42 clinics are already qualified to be surgical centers and are located in major Texas cities, AP notes. The 37 other clinics would need to spend money to renovate the facilities to include operating rooms and possibly relocate before being able to qualify as a surgical center.