Texas Senate Approves Omnibus Anti-Abortion Bill

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

Late Friday night, the Texas senate voted to approve an omnibus anti-abortion bill as thousands of furious Texans, dressed in orange, packed the state capitol rotunda, filled the hallways with deafening renditions of the ’80s hair metal hit “We’re Not Gonna Take It” and took to the streets to march for reproductive rights. Republican Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst began a new legislative day two minutes after the senate’s approval of HB 2 on its second reading, enabling lawmakers to approve HB 2 for a third and final vote. HB 2 now goes to the governor’s desk for his signature, which is all but assured.

Texas Republicans finally succeeded in pushing the bill through in the state legislature’s second 30-day special session, an action typically reserved for emergencies. But after a regular session of so-called compromise, wherein Republicans promised not to introduce any new limitations on abortion in Texas, Republican Gov. Rick Perry placed abortion on the first special session’s call, only to be thwarted at the last hour by a Democratic filibuster led by state Sen. Wendy Davis (D-Fort Worth).

Perry didn’t repeat his mistake in the second special session, putting abortion on the initial call on July 1 with plenty of time to spare. Lt. Gov. Dewhurst pitched in, as he did in the first special session, by suspending a “two-thirds rule” that allows legislators to present a bill without the usual two-thirds majority required from the senate. That rule is generally seen as a nod toward bipartisanship, allowing senate democrats a modicum of power in the Republican-dominated senate.

Without that rule, state Sen. Glenn Hegar (R-Katy) was free to propose HB 2 and see it wind its way through committees and floor hearings.

But passing a bill that will make safe, legal abortion all but impossible to perform and access was more important than bipartisanship, or in many cases, the basic democratic process. Throughout the last three weeks, Republican committee chairs and house and senate leaders have shut down public testimony, first during the “people’s filibuster” on June 20, in “formal hearings” where no testimony was taken, and blatantly modified voting records in an attempt to pass legislation that a majority of Texans do not support.

HB 2 bans abortion after 20 weeks, requires abortion providers to obtain hospital admitting privileges, restricts the prescription of medical abortions, and mandates that all abortion facilities be licensed as ambulatory surgical centers, a rule which would shut down all but five abortion facilities currently operating in Texas. The remaining legal abortion clinics will be located in Dallas, Houston, Austin, and San Antonio.

Hegar, a rice farmer, rejected all 20 of the senate democrats’ proposed amendments, which included an exception for rape and incest victims to the 20-week ban, an attempt to shore-up sex education, and a rule allowing teen moms to obtain birth control without parental approval. Democrats said that all the amendments were intended to reduce the need for abortion in the first place, but Hegar repeated his usual mantra, saying the bill is only about “improving the standard of care” in abortion clinics. When it came to contraception and teen pregnancy, Hegar said those topics weren’t “germane” to the abortion issue.

If HB 2 goes into effect—a court battle over the constitutionality of the bill is likely—it is expected to be dangerous and deadly for the state’s poorest and most rural residents, who will be forced to drive hundreds of miles round-trip, over a multi-day series of appointments, to access safe, legal abortion—if there are any doctors with admitting privileges to perform the procedure.

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  • fiona64

    Congratulations, Texas! You’re well on your way to being a third-world theocracy …

    • Turtles Run

      To late it already is. Try getting on a school board without proving your proper “Christian” credentials.

    • HeilMary1

      Texas will have a reverse migration back to Catholic-ruined Mexico!

  • http://wwww.minecraftchannel.net/ Minecraft

    OH. It was a result that I was waiting to hear from the information related to this issue. It’s good, it’s great.

    • cjvg

      Keep in mind that only 2% of abortions are done at 20 weeks and that these abortions are overwhelmingly done because something is going very very wrong with the pregnancy (IE the live of the mother becomes severely endangered, the fetus died in the womb, the fetus has abnormalities incompatible with live and going full term will only endanger the mother for a non viable fetus etc)
      The overwhelming majority of these abortions are performed on women who are married or in committed relationships with the father, a father who supports this abortion.
      women and men who wanted these pregnancies very much and who planned these pregnancies, however something went very wrong!
      Does it matter at all to you that the people who study medicine for years (like the AMA and the ACOG =obstetricians+ gynecologist) came out strongly AGAINST the passing of this bill?!

      “the so-called Preborn Pain Act, would ban abortions performed after 20 weeks post-fertilization in the state, putting Texas in opposition to the Texas Hospital Association, the American Medical Association, and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.”
      Never mind that delivering babies is far more lucrative to hospitals and obstetricians then an abortion!
      Obviously people who’s livelihood depends on delivering babies feel that this law is endangering women to such an extend that they have no other moral choice then to speak against their own best interest!
      Think about that for a while, before you place your ideology and your personal choices, before the rights and the life of a woman and rights of her family to have her around!

  • Turtles Run

    One unintentional consequence of this law is that many women that consider themselves conservatives are beginning to reevaluate their positions. My wife is much more conservative than I am and she is mad as heck about this law and she is pro-life.

    • fiona64

      And therein lies the difference between being pro-life and anti-choice. Recognizing that your own beliefs should not be forced on other women is a rather big deal.