Texas Republicans fight Democratic stall tactics in race against the clock to pass pro-life bill
AUSTIN, TX, June 24, 2013 (LifeSiteNews) – As the Texas State Legislative Special Session barrels toward its Tuesday night close, Republican lawmakers shut down 15 hours of procedural stall tactics by the Democratic minority in the wee hours of Monday morning to force a vote on new abortion restrictions requested by Governor Rick Perry. The bill passed 97-33 at about 2 AM, with three Democrats crossing the aisle to vote for the tougher regulations.
The new law, if given final approval by the House and Senate, would ban all abortions after 20 weeks, when medical experts say unborn babies can feel pain. Unlike a similar law being debated in the U.S. House, the Texas law has no exceptions for rape or incest.
Rep. Senfronia Thompson (D) was theatrical in her demand for the addition of such exceptions, bringing a coat hanger with her to the podium and dramatically shaking it at her fellow colleagues. “Do you want to return back to the coat hanger?” she asked. “There are going to be more people ending up in the hospital, DOA, dead on arrival.”
But the bill’s sponsor said 20 weeks was more than enough time for an unfortunate victim of a crime to make up her mind and take action. “The woman had five months to make that decision, at this point we are looking at a baby that is very far along in its development,” said Rep. Jody Laubenberg (R). “At five months, we are talking about a human being, unless you think it’s still a clump of mass … we have to protect that baby’s rights.”
The bill also imposes tighter safety regulations on abortion centers, requiring abortionists to maintain admitting privileges at local hospitals and bring their facilities up to par with other outpatient surgical centers. Similar laws in other states have driven multiple substandard abortion clinics out of business. Currently, 37 out of Texas’s 42 abortion centers fail to meet the bill’s standards.
An additional provision requires women who request abortion drugs to take each one of the entire multi-day series of pills in the presence of a medical professional.
“If this passes, abortion would be virtually banned in the state of Texas,” claimed Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund and daughter of the late former Texas governor Ann Richards. “[M]any women could be forced to resort to dangerous and unsafe measures.”
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It’s now a race against the clock for Republicans to secure final passage of the bill before 11:59 PM Tuesday. Procedure requires a bill passed by the House to sit for 24 hours before moving to the Senate. That will leave only 13.5 hours before the Special Session expires, making it theoretically possible for Senate Democrats to mount a promised filibuster until the clock runs out. Senate rules on the filibuster require a single Senator to speak continuously and remain standing for the duration of the attempt. The Senator may not take a break for any reason, not even to go to the bathroom, and may not sit or lean against anything. Thirteen hours of that is tough, but not impossible.
If the Senate fails to vote on the abortion bill before the deadline, Lt. Governor David Dewhurst has hinted that Governor Perry may call another Special Session to ensure its passage. “I happen to be a strong protector of the sanctity of life, but right now, the question of when we'll be called back to Special Session if we don't pass these bills is up to the governor,” Dewhurst told the San Antonio Express-News. “Unless I'm misreading him, we're going to be called back in. There are certain items … that he shared with me that are a must-pass.”