During the early hours of Monday morning, Texas Republicans approved a Senate Bill that will force the closure of most of the abortion clinics in the state. The House debated the measure until 3:30 a.m., and Texas Democrats took measures to further stall approval, according to the Huffington Post. The bill combines several restrictions that failed to pass throughout the year and includes requiring doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital.
The legislation requires that abortifacient drugs be administered in person by a doctor, ban abortions after 20 weeks post-fertilization, and limit abortions to surgical centers. Despite the fact that some two dozen anti-abortion bills introduced by Texas Republicans during the last year failed to advance, Governor Rick Perry (R) decided to add the failed anti-abortion legislation, that didn’t pass during the regular session, to the agenda for a special 30-day session.
Democrats opposing the measures were supported by about 800 protesters and women’s health advocates who crowded in and around the state capitol building Sunday night. According to the AP, Democrats used “parliamentary tactics” to prolong the debate over the proposed bill for 15 hours, until Republicans, in a “highly unusual and partisan move,” passed a motion to stop accepting amendments and forced a vote. SB 5 will go to the Senate on Tuesday, where it could be filibustered by Democrats.
“If this passes, abortion would be virtually banned in the state of Texas, and many women could be forced to resort to dangerous and unsafe measures,” Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund and daughter of former Texas governor Ann Richards, told the AP.
“The bill’s sponsor stopped answering questions about her [Rep. Jody Launberg (R-Parker)] bill after the first two hours after she got into trouble denying Democratic amendments,” they reported. And when Rep. Senfronia Thompson (D-Houston) called for the addition of an exemption for victims of rape and incest, Launberg reportedly explained that such an exemption was unnecessary because of rape kits.
“In the emergency room they have what’s called rape kits where a woman can get cleaned out,” Launberg said, as if confusing the procedure with an abortion. “The woman had five months to make that decision, at this point we’re looking at a baby that is very far along in its development.”
The bill passed the House in a 97-33 vote. Three Democrats voted with the Republican majority.
Alisha is a writer and researcher for Ring of Fire.