The Texas Senate has finally passed a bill that prohibits conducting abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy and forces to close down five abortion clinics.
Thus, Texas became the 13th U.S. state to pass a provision which is based on research claiming that fetuses can feel pain at the given period of a pregnancy. Current limits are 26 weeks in Texas.
Despite political support in the state for the passed anti-abortion bill, there could be legal obstacles. Thus, for example, courts have blocked the provision in three of the 12 states that have applied it, and opponents of the Texas bill vowed to challenge the decision in court.
Thousands of those who support the bill and of those who oppose it gathered at the state capitol this summer for rallies and marches and to get the right to testify at public hearings.
“Let’s draw the line and not torture these babies that are aborted,” Senator Bob Deuell, a Republican and a family physician who stands for the ban, said during Friday’s nine-hour debate.
The Friday’ measure is predicted to change standards for some clinics which offer abortions in ways that opponents say “would cause dozens of the facilities to shut down, forcing Texans to turn to illegal, unsafe means”.
Bill advocates can’t agree, arguing that clinics would have to close, reports Reuters.
“This bill is creating a situation where women in Texas today not only will not be made safer but they will absolutely be at risk of their health,” saidstate Senator Wendy Davis.
The Texas legislation also inposes stricter control of how doctors administer abortion-inducing drugs, such as the regimen known as RU-486.
The Texas statehouse was surrounded by citisens opposed to the bill wearing orange clothes and holding signs that claimed, “My body, my choice,” chanting and loudly shouting outside the Senate chamber.
Bill supporters wore blue, some brought with them Bibles and crosses and holding signs that said things like, “Unborn babies feel pain.”
“What happened here tonight is going to fast-forward change in Texas in the long run, but unfortunately a lot of women will suffer in the process,” said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
Perry urged lawmakers to gather in Austin for an additional special session to think over one more time the proposal after Davis’s successful filibuster, and this time lawmakers were not fighting the clock.
The second special session began July 1 and could last up to 30 days.
“Today the Texas legislature took its final step in our historic effort to protect life,” Governor Rick Perry said in a statement.
By the way, Texas governor revealed earlier this week that he will not seek for reelection 2014.
“The time has come to pass on the mantle of leadership,” Perry said of his decision not to run once again for the post of governor.
Perry’s departure will probably bring the most prominent and important political shuffle in Texas in 13 years, the last time there was an open race for governor.