Texas House Set to Approve Omnibus Anti-Abortion Bill Wednesday Morning

Read all of RH Reality Check‘s coverage of the recent fight for reproductive rights in Texas here.

The Texas house is expected to give its final approval to an omnibus anti-abortion bill Wednesday morning, sending the bill to its final journey through the Texas senate before it becomes law. Legislators debated the bill for ten hours Tuesday, with many Democrats, alongside two Republicans, offering 26 amendments to the bill that is expected to shut down all but five abortion clinics in Texas. The proposed bill bans abortion after 20 weeks, puts onerous restrictions on the prescription of medication abortions, requires abortion providers to gain admitting privileges at local hospitals, and mandates that abortion facilities be licensed as ambulatory surgical centers.

House Democrats carried coat hangers to the house podium Tuesday to signify an impending return to back-alley abortions for Texans in rural areas who will not be able to travel hundreds of miles to access the state’s abortion-providing ambulatory surgical centers, currently located exclusively in urban centers.

Debate grew contentious as the day wore on and HB 2’s sponsor, state Rep. Jodie Laubenberg (R-Parker), moved to table every  one of the proposed amendments, including a proposal from Rep. Dawnna Dukes (D-Austin) that would extend Texas’ “baby Moses” law that allows parents to surrender their children at designated state safe-havens.

Dukes, who adopted a child from family services, wanted to push back the safe haven deadline from 60 days to a year. Hers, she said, was a true “pro-life” amendment. She asked Laubenberg, “What was your answer about why you don’t want to protect kids that are older than 60 days?”

But the day was not without its moments of humor, after a flying gavel—hit too hard at the dais—narrowly missed state Rep. Sylvester Turner (D-Houston) as he proposed an amendment that would exempt doctors from the hospital admitting privileges requirement if local hospitals employ policies expressly refusing those privileges to abortion providers.

“We need to recess for two weeks!” Turner exclaimed, to laughter from the gallery. “I need an ambulatory surgical facility!”

Things grew somber during closing arguments, with one Republican lawmaker bringing a sonogram image of the 13-week-old fetus in his wife’s womb, which he said was able to play “criss-cross apple sauce” even at its young gestational age. Another Republican representative implored Democrats to vote to approve the bill, because “the Bible tells us” that children are “knit together” in a mother’s womb. Yet another Republican representative read a poem written by her sister about the abortion she regrets.

In her closing statement, Rep. Mary Gonzalez (D-El Paso) invited her colleagues to consider the damage the bill would do to victims of rape and incest who would be forced to carry 20-week pregnancies to term, and to see them not as a faceless group. She admitted that she herself had been abused as a child. “I want you to look at me,” she said, and “make this bill about women’s health. Make it about women’s lives.”

The state house approved HB 2 just after 8:30 p.m. CST. The house is expected to pass the bill to the senate after a third and final vote Wednesday morning.

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  • L-dan

    “the 13-week-old fetus in his wife’s womb, which he said was able to play
    “criss-cross apple sauce” even at its young gestational age.”

    My eyes are rolling so hard right now. Seriously? Your sonogram shows crossed legs, so that’s evidence of some kind of cognition?

    And I still don’t get the “I regret my choice so I think nobody should have one,” people. Many of us regret dating someone and we don’t even think that we, ourselves, should stop dating forever, much less that everyone should. Given the divorce rate, there’s a lot of people regretting getting married, and even regretting having children…but we’re not out to save people from those choices, are we?

  • OGalaxy

    “Another Republican representative implored Democrats to vote to approve the bill, because ‘the Bible tells us'”

    This makes me livid. They are openly admitting to defying the Constitution and legislating (forcing) their religion on the rest of us. These people who go around making laws based on the bible are giving Christianity a bad name. They are anti-American.

    So sick of the GOP theocracy and hypocrisy.

  • Valde

    addictinginfo dot org rick-perrys-sister-could-personally-profit-from-closing-most-of-the-abortion-clinics-in-texas

    If the bill passes, only five Texas abortion clinics
    would remain open — those that are already equipped as ambulatory
    surgical centers, advocates say. But a question remains: would the 420
    other ambulatory surgical centers that exist in Texas begin performing
    the operation? Abortion rights advocates predict that the demand for the
    procedure won’t disappear with passage of the law.

    One company that will be faced with that decision is United Surgical
    Partners International, based in Addison, TX. Their vice-president of
    government affairs is Milla Perry Jones, Gov. Rick Perry’s sister. She
    is also on the board of the Texas Ambulatory Surgical Center Society.

    Simply put, Milla Perry Jones sits on the board of the United
    Surgical Partners Corporation. They currently operate 420 surgical
    centers in the state. Closing 37 of the 42 clinics in Texas
    significantly eliminates competition and gives the company the ability
    to offer and perform abortion procedures at a higher cost. This means
    low income women will have to pay more to get an abortion and Rick
    Perry’s sister will profit from it.