Texas House tentatively passes restrictive abortion measure
Updated On: Jul 10 2013 12:29:09 AM CDT
The Texas House of Representatives tentatively approved a measure Tuesday that would place broad new restrictions on abortions in the state, paving the way for the contentious legislation to become law.
H.B. 2 cleared the lower chamber 98-49 after hours of debate over proposed amendments. A final vote on the bill in the House will take place Wednesday. The Texas Senate is debating a similar measure.
The measure seeks to ban abortions past 20 weeks of gestation, mandate abortion clinics to become ambulatory surgical centers, tighten usage guidelines for the drug RU486, and require doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the clinic at which they're providing abortion services.
Critics said the measure would shut down most abortion clinics in Texas, denying access to many in rural communities, and force women to seek dangerous back alley abortions. Many Democrats, like Rep. Mary Gonzales, felt the motives for the legislation were less than pure.
"Is this bill more about women's health or political futures?" she asked Tuesday.
But for Republicans like Rep. Jason Villalba, the bill's passage was intensely personal. Holding up a sonogram of his 13-week-old son, he voiced his support.
"I will fight, and I will fight, and I will fight to protect my baby," he said.
Proponents say that the bill is necessary to raise the standard of care for women in Texas and will protect 20-week-old babies at the point that they begin to have the ability to feel pain.
Initially, the House bill restricting abortions failed after a day and night of drama in which state Sen. Wendy Davis talked for more than 10 hours in an attempt to run out the clock on the legislative session.
But Gov. Rick Perry called a special session so the legislature could take up the measure again.
On Tuesday, Davis conceded to CNN the abortion legislation was likely to pass this time around.
"It will be very difficult because unfortunately the voices that have been here crying out against this bill are not going to be heard," Davis told CNN National Political Correspondent Jim Acosta in a brief interview.
"But I don't think it's the end. It's the beginning of a battle line," she added.
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