Texas Republicans poised to pass wide-ranging antiabortion laws

Sen. Kirk Watson, left, D-Austin, and Sen. Royce West, right, D-Dallas, vote against actions that would begin the debate early on legislation sent over by the house, Monday, June 24, 2013, in Austin, Texas. The Republican-dominated Texas Legislature pushed Monday to enact wide-ranging restrictions that would effectively shut down all abortion clinics in the nation's second most-populous state, and Democrats planned an old-fashioned marathon filibuster to stop the final vote.
Sen. Kirk Watson, left, D-Austin, and Sen. Royce West, right, D-Dallas, vote against actions that would begin the debate early on legislation sent over by the house, Monday, June 24, 2013, in Austin, Texas. The Republican-dominated Texas Legislature pushed Monday to enact wide-ranging restrictions that would effectively shut down all abortion clinics in the nation's second most-populous state, and Democrats planned an old-fashioned marathon filibuster to stop the final vote. (ERIC GAY / Associated Press)
Posted: June 26, 2013

AUSTIN, Texas - The Republican-dominated Texas Legislature pushed Monday to enact wide-ranging restrictions that would effectively shut down abortion clinics across the nation's second most-populous state, and Democrats planned an old-fashioned marathon filibuster to stop the final vote.

After the House easily approved it Monday morning, the wide-ranging package of antiabortion measures was headed to the Senate. But with the special session scheduled to end at 11:59 p.m. Tuesday, the clock presented a far bigger obstacle than the votes to win approval there.

Although Texas is just the latest of several conservative states to try to enact tough limits on abortions, the scope of its effort is notable because of the combination of bills being considered and the size of the state. The proposal would ban abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy, require doctors to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, limit abortions to surgical centers, and stipulate doctors must monitor even nonsurgical abortions.

When combined in a state with 26 million people, the measures become the most stringent set of laws to impact the largest number of people in the nation.

"If this passes, abortion would be virtually banned in the state of Texas," said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund and daughter of the late former Texas Gov. Ann Richards.

Supporters, though, insist it will only raise the standard of health care for women seeking an abortion.

The only way Democrats could block a vote when it goes to the Senate is if one senator filibusters it by running out the clock on the special session. Normally, the Senate doesn't get a bill until 24 hours after House passage, which would set the Senate debate for Tuesday morning, effectively requiring a filibuster to last 131/2 hours.

Republicans tried but failed to force an earlier vote and a longer filibuster. Democrats dug in and held on to the one-vote margin they needed to block the attempt.

According to the National Council of State Legislatures, eight legislatures have banned abortions after 20 weeks, Arizona did so at 18 weeks, and Arkansas passed a ban after 12 weeks. Federal judges have thrown out the laws in Arizona and Iowa, and judges have blocked similar measures in the other states.

|
|
|
|
|