Texas Approves Bill Severely Restricting Abortions

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
July 13 2013 10:40 AM

Texas Senate Republicans Approve Strict New Limits on Abortions

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Texas Gov. Rick Perry is due to sign the new abortion restrictions into law over the next few days

Photo by Stewart F. House/Getty Images

The filibuster heard around the world could only keep things at bay for so long. Late Friday, the Republican-controlled Texas Senate surprised no one by voting 19-11 to approve one of the strictest anti-abortion measures in the country, reports the Associated Press. But Democrats vowed to fight on in a cause that has become an effective rallying cry for supporters who insist the measure that Gov. Rick Perry is due to sign into law over the next few days will make it difficult to obtain safe abortions in the state. Even though the bill comes at a time when several state legislatures are passing new abortion restrictions, the Texas measure “combines several in ways that would severely limit abortion in the state,” notes the Washington Post. Out of the state’s 42 abortion clinics, only six meet the new requirements to remain open.

Texas is now the 13th state to pass a 20-week ban on abortion based on controversial research that claims that's the point when fetuses begin to feel pain, points out Reuters. The measure also requires doctors to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital, and includes stricter limits on how doctors administer abortion-inducing drugs, among other measures.

Senators passed the bill as thousands of protesters gathered in and around the Capitol, reports the Texas Tribune. Security officers were ready for trouble and searched all the bags of visitors who wanted to watch the debate, confiscating anything that could be used as a projectile—including tampons, “until the practice became an object of derision online,” reports the New York Times.

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Texas Democrats offered up 20 amendments to the bill, but Republicans rejected them all. Now Democrats vow to continue the fight in the courts. Although similar bans have been shot down by the courts in three other states, Texas is under the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, which has previously shown a willingness to let stringent limits on abortion remain in place, notes the AP. “The fight for the future of Texas is just beginning,” State Sen. Wendy Davis, who made news around the world when she managed to stall the bill last month through an 11-hour filibuster, said late Friday.

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.