AUSTIN, TX, July 18, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Governor Rick Perry has signed into law a pro-life bill that captured the imagination of both sides of the abortion issue and touched off days of tense confrontation in the state capitol.
“Today’s signing builds on our continued commitment to protecting life for more than a decade,” the governor said in a short speech before the signing. “This is an important day for those who support life and the health of women in Texas. Signing HB2 further solidifies the foundation on which the culture of life in Texas is built.”
The bill prohibits abortions past 20 weeks based upon scientific evidence that unborn babies can feel pain by that point. It also requires that abortion facilities meet the same safety standards as ambulatory surgical centers, and requires abortionists to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital.
Critics of the bill charge that it could close as many as 37 of the state's abortion clinics.
In a statement on Saturday, Gov. Perry had welcomed the passage of the law in the Senate.
“Today the Texas Legislature took its final step in our historic effort to protect life,” he said. “This legislation builds on the strong and unwavering commitment we have made to defend life and protect women's health. I am proud of our lawmakers, and citizens who tirelessly defended our smallest and most vulnerable Texans and future Texans.”
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The debate over the late-term abortion ban was characterized by aggressive protests that took veteran pro-life activists by surprise. A mob of abortion activists caused the first version of the bill to fail by shouting and delaying the vote past the midnight deadline. On a later occasion, a small group was captured on camera yelling “Hail Satan!” to drown out pro-life activists who were singing “Amazing Grace.” #HailSatan quickly became a trending topic on Twiter.
Emotions ran high in the minutes before and after the final vote in the Senate on Friday night, with reports of threats of violence and rioting by abortion activists. Twelve pro-abortion protesters were arrested, two of whom were taken to hospital with injuries. Most of those arrested had attempted to disturb the debate from the Senate gallery. Several of them had tried to handcuff themselves to the gallery railing.
While some pro-life activists have said they would be thrilled if the bill did lead to the closure of abortion offices, dire predictions of mass abortion facility closures by abortion activists in other states have been wildly exaggerated, a fact cited by the bill's key sponsor during debate Friday afternoon.
When a similar law passed in Virginia, opponents had warned that as many as 17 of the state’s 21 clinics could shut down. However, no such mass closings materialized, although just this week news broke that the state’s busiest clinic has closed, citing the law as the reason.
Gov. Perry himself responded to warnings about likely closures in Texas, saying they are inaccurate.
“I don’t agree with her premise or her numbers,” Perry said in response to State Senator Wendy Davis’ claim that the bill could only leave five functioning clinics in the state. “History will prove she’s wrong by asserting that.”