All Eyes on Texas

9140788925_5898d68d86UPDATE: Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, said this morning that S.B. 1, the Senate’s version of the anti-abortion bill H.B. 2, could be voted on by Friday afternoon. …

The Texas House of Representatives voted 96-49 to pass anti-abortion bill H.B. 2 early this afternoon. It now goes to the Texas Senate, where Sen. Wendy Davis famously filibustered against a previous version of it.

Davis is currently on a “Stand with Texas Women” bus tour with Planned Parenthood president, Cecile Richards, and other Texas pro-choice activists. The bus will visit major Texan cities to highlight the negative effects that H.B. 2 will have on Texas women.

While the House has only been back in session since yesterday, after taking a long recess last week (because celebrating America’s independence and taking away women’s reproductive rights goes hand in hand), the debate over Texas women’s reproductive rights quickly heated up.

On Tuesday, the House held a tentative vote on H.B. 2, tabling all proposed amendments (all from Democrats) and ignoring thousands of witnesses who wanted to give testimony. The vote was almost entirely along party lines, 98-49 in favor, with only one Republican, Sarah Davis voting against it. Davis said,

Now is not the time to play political football with women’s health. Abortion … is a constitutionally protected right.

The debate on H.B. 2 became particularly contentious when Republican Rep. Jodie Laubenberg—she of the infamous rape-kits-are-abortion comment—graphically described an abortion and placed baby shoes on the podium to represent an unborn child. Then she opposed an amendment that would allow victims of rape and incest to get abortions after 20 weeks. In response, Democratic Rep. Senfronia Thompson and other women House Democrats took to the floor with coat hangers to reference unsafe back-alley abortions. Thompson said

When a person is raped, a woman is raped, they don’t go and see whether or not it’s a Republican woman or a Democratic woman or an independent woman, the rapist just rapes a woman. And I don’t want to force them to have to use a coat hanger [in a] back alley or use a knitting needle or use a feather or take turpentine. I want to make sure that the law allows them that option.

The Texas Senate returned to work the day before the House, just to hear 14 hours of testimony from supporters and opponents of S.B. 1 (the Senate version of the anti-abortion bill). Sarah Slamen, a citizen opponent of S.B. 1, was forcibly removed by state troopers mid-testimony after she and Republican Sen. Donna Campbell got into an argument. Before she was removed, Slamen said

Thank you for being you, Texas legislature. You have radicalized hundreds of thousands of us. And no matter what you do for the next 22 days, women and their allies are coming for you.

A video of Slamen’s testimony and its response is available here.

A livestream of the Senate debate—which will resume on July 11—is available here.

Stay tuned to the Ms. Blog for further updates!

Photo of HB 2 opponents in the state capitol from Flickr user maxacroes under license from Creative Commons 2.0