Texas Republican Gov. Rick Perry held a ceremony at the state capitol building Thursday to sign HB 2, an omnibus anti-choice bill that will ban almost all abortions after 20 weeks, will impose onerous regulations on providing medication abortions, and could severely diminish access to safe, legal abortion by closing most Texas abortion clinics. The governor was flanked by anti-choice Texas legislators as he signed the bill into law, while pro-choice protesters in the rotunda chanted and held signs.
The signing ceremony capped a long reproductive rights battle that included Gov. Perry ordering not one but two special sessions to pass the measures. The first session ended in chaos as legislators fought to pass the bill before deadline but were blocked by a nearly full day of filibustering by state Sen. Wendy Davis (D-Fort Worth), followed by impassioned cries from onlookers in the gallery, which made it impossible to hold a vote before the session expired.
“Today’s signing definitely builds upon our continuing commitment to protect life,” said Gov. Perry at the ceremony, calling Thursday a “very happy, celebratory day.”
Pro-choice advocates gathered at the capitol, holding signs that spelled the word “Shame” and chanting “The blood of Texas women is on your hands,” according to the Associated Press. “Protestors sing ‘we’re not gonna take it’ after @GovernorPerry signs #HB2 into law behind closed doors,” tweeted NARAL Pro-Choice Texas.
The 20-week abortion ban and new procedures for how medication abortion can be administered will go into effect in September. Reproductive rights advocates and providers are believed to be weighing options for legal action against the new laws.