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May 5, 2015

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Texas House passes abortion bill; Senate next stop

AUSTIN, Texas — The Texas House approved new abortion limits Wednesday in a second special session, less than two weeks after Senate Republicans failed to finish work on the bill amid a filibuster and raucous protests.

A final vote could be held as early as Friday in the Senate, where the measure died as the first special session expired. The House voted mostly along party lines on what has become signature GOP legislation.

Lawmakers spent more than 10 hours debating it Tuesday, and Republicans rejected every attempt to amend the bill. Throngs of protesters were missing for Wednesday's mostly procedural vote after days of protests by supporters and opponents.

The bill requires doctors to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, only allow abortions in surgical centers and ban abortions after 20 weeks.

The House gallery was largely empty Wednesday morning, with a smattering of the orange and blue T-shirts worn by opponents and supporters of the bill. This was in stark contrast to Tuesday night's vote, when hundreds filled the Capitol rotunda chanting, "Shame on you!"

Planned Parenthood took their Stand With Texas Women campaign on the road Tuesday, rallying more than 1,100 supporters in downtown Houston to oppose the measure. The bus tour was expected in Dallas on Wednesday, with a speech by Fort Worth Sen. Wendy Davis, a rising Democratic star following her filibuster against the bill last month.

No other issue in Texas has rallied Democratic voters, young activists and women's right supporters in recent years like House Bill 2. The Texas Democratic Party has helped organize rallies opposing the bill and have used them to register new voters.

Gov. Rick Perry has made it a personal goal to end abortions in Texas, and voting for anti-abortion measures is a litmus test for Republican politicians. Conservative Christian groups keep scorecards on lawmaker's voting records.

There is little Democrats can do to stop the measure in the Republican-controlled Legislature. But they have worked hard to enter into the legislative record testimony that opponents can use to convince a federal court to overturn the law before it can take effect.

They also say the Texas restrictions and those passed by other states conflict with the U.S. Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which established that a woman has the right to get an abortion until her fetus could viably survive outside of the womb, which is generally at 22 to 24 weeks of the pregnancy.

It's unclear if the Texas restrictions could survive a court challenge. Federal courts have suspended aspects of the bill enacted by other states. On Monday, a federal judge blocked enforcement of a Wisconsin abortion law requiring admitting privileges.

The Texas Medical Association, the Texas Hospital Association and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology oppose the bill, calling it unnecessary.

Democratic Rep. Ruth McClendon, of San Antonio, made one last attempt to amend the bill Wednesday to add funding for the Adoption Assistance Program, which provides financial assistance to families that adopt children in the foster care system. Other Democrats said that if the bill passes, then the number of unintended pregnancies would increase and place greater demand on the foster system.

"If we don't adopt this amendment, then we are saying that we don't care about the children of Texas," she said.

But the bill's author Rep. Jody Laubenberg, R-Parker, said she opposed all amendments to her bill. She said the Legislature had appropriated enough money for foster children.

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  1. In Texas, no one cares if a woman screams.

    Ms. Slamen is the new hero of Texas. She stood up to them and did more for women than any Tea/Republican legislator could ever do.

    Watch her testimony....

  2. I believe in the Roe vs. Wade decision. It was made and upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court and is considered perfectly valid according to and consistent with U.S. Constitutional law.

    I DO NOT believe in the garbage that States like Ohio, Wisconsin, North Carolina and Texas are trying to do to re-interpret it. All of those aforementioned States have fanatical ultra-conservative evangelical Tea/Republican run governments that are trying to ram through, not pass, ram through legislation that nullifies the law of the land.

    Don't put words in my mouth, chuck333.

  3. Rick remembers reading somewhere that he has dominion over the Earth and all it's creatures, and he takes that very seriously.

    It turns out that Texas is 50th in the percentage of population with a high school diploma, or how it's first in the nation with 28.8% uninsured.

    Business is booming in Texas. The Texas taxpayer subsidizes Wal Mart so that it's executives can pay themselves bigger bonuses and dividends. About 80% of the Wal Mart employees are on food stamps and their primary care physicians are usually found in the emergency rooms of nearby hospitals.

    The Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas turned out to be so political that all seven scientists including two Nobel Laureates drawn to the project resigned last year. There is a lot of news on that which is easily accessed.

    The fertilizer plant that blew up hadn't had a safety inspection for 28 years. OSHA has been so seriously defunded by George Bush that it would take 137 years to inspect all the work sites in Texas.

    For those who are looking for another Texas Governor to be the Commander in Chief, the good news is that Rick will probably run for President in 2016. This will also provide the comic relief needed to get through the election.

  4. Said many times before is the most eloquent quote, that if contraceptives were being dropped over Hanoi during the Vietnam war, the Catholic Church would have protested vigorously. However, it was only napalm that was being dropped. A few brave Priests protested the Vietnam war but the Church overall was silent: Vietnam was a Godless country and so was Iraq.

    The US Conference of Catholic Bishops and many other religious organizations reject the use of contraceptives. They attempt to discourage or prevent the availability of birth control pills and feel they have the right to control other people. Somehow, they describe contraception as the 'taking of a life'. However, 'human life' and the biological condition of 'life' are not the same entity. Fungus and bacteria qualify as 'life'.

    Abortion in a more general sense is the taking of human life before it has reached fruition. War is the abortion of adult lives, usually very young adults with the best years of their lives ahead of them.

    The Conference of Bishops however, accepts the idea of a "Just War" since the concept has been with the Catholic Church since St. Augustine ~410 A.D. and which, by default, recognizes the concept of "Just Abortion", the taking of an adult life before it has come to fruition.

    The Bishops should better quality what they mean when they use the word 'life' by itself.