Texas Antiabortion Bill Heads to Senate
July 11, 2013 — The Texas House on Wednesday gave final approval to an omnibus antiabortion-rights measure (HB 2), advancing the legislation to the state Senate, where it will likely be considered on Friday, the AP/Politico reports (AP/Politico, 7/10).
The measure includes four abortion regulations that failed to progress in either chamber of the Legislature during the regular session: a ban on abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy unless a woman's life is in danger, a requirement that abortions be performed at an ambulatory surgical center, a mandate that physicians administer medication abortion drugs in person and a requirement that physicians who perform abortions have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles.
State Senate Republicans failed to pass the legislation during the first special session after state Sen. Wendy Davis (D) filibustered it for more than 10 hours and a crowd of abortion-rights supporters further stalled the voting past a deadline. Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) then called lawmakers back for a second special session (Women's Health Policy Report, 7/10).
Protesters continued to voice disapproval over the legislation as the debate progressed, with several women shouting "We will not be silenced" during the final vote (Aaronson, Texas Tribune, 7/10). The bill passed after 10 hours of debate without any amendments (AP/Politico, 7/10).
Meanwhile, Perry in a statement thanked proponents of the legislation for their support, adding, "Now is not the time to waver, however, as the Senate continues its important work in support of women's health and protecting the lives of our most vulnerable Texans" (Weiner, Washington Post, 7/10).
The state Senate can consider the legislation 24 hours after it has been approved by the chamber's Health and Human Services Committee, unless a two-thirds majority of the Senate agrees to suspend the rules. Such a suspension is unlikely, given the number of Democrats opposed to the bill, so the legislation will likely be considered on Friday after the committee considers it on Thursday, according to the Texas Tribune (Texas Tribune, 7/10).