Contentious Abortion Bill Clears Texas House

GOP dissenter blasts it as 'de facto ban on abortion;' expected to pass Senate

By Ruth Brown,  Newser Staff

Posted Jul 10, 2013 7:49 AM CDT | Updated Jul 10, 2013 8:00 AM CDT

(Newser) – Despite the best efforts of Wendy Davis, the Texas abortion bill is back. The Texas House has finally (this was the third attempt this year) approved new abortion restrictions, including a ban on abortions after 20 weeks, restricting the procedure to surgical centers, and requiring doctors performing abortions to have hospital-admitting privileges, the AP reports. Proponents say the new measures will keep women safe, but opponents say the real outcome of the bill will be the closure of the majority of the state's abortion clinics—only five of Texas' 36 licensed clinics are expected to be able to afford the upgrades required to pass as a "surgical center," the El Paso Times reports.

The vote came after 10 hours of heated debate, as demonstrators from both sides descended on the Texas Capitol building. Supporters brought in baby shoes, while opponents carried coat hangers—a symbol of "back alley" abortions, the New York Times reports. Ultimately, the vote passed easily: 98 to 49 with only one Republican, Sarah Davis, opposing the new law, which she labeled unconstitutional. "I believe the bill as drafted will be a de facto ban on abortion," she said. "No one wants to see abortions, it's a terrible way to end a pregnancy, but it is a constitutionally protected right." A formal vote on the bill will be held today, then it will move on to the Republican-controlled Senate, where it's expected to pass, the AP reports.

Republican Rep. Jason Villalba holds a sonogram showing his unborn son during final remarks before a final vote on the abortion bill.
Republican Rep. Jason Villalba holds a sonogram showing his unborn son during final remarks before a final vote on the abortion bill.   (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
A Planned Parenthood rally in Texas yesterday.
A Planned Parenthood rally in Texas yesterday.   (AP Photo/Houston Chronicle, Billy Smith II)
Democratic Rep. Senfronia Thompson holds a coat hangar as she stands with fellow representatives while proposing an amendment to the second reading of the bill.
Democratic Rep. Senfronia Thompson holds a coat hangar as she stands with fellow representatives while proposing an amendment to the second reading of the bill.   (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
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