Yesterday, near midnight, the Texas Senate passed H.B. 2, the draconian anti-abortion bill that has brought national attention to War on Women state legislatures and made a feminist folk hero of filibustering State Sen. Wendy Davis.
Certain to be signed by Texas Gov. Rick Perry, the bill outlaws abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, requires abortion clinics to meet the same standards as ambulatory surgical centers (even if they only perform medication abortions), require the doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles. The new requirements add to current Texas laws already restricting abortion access, including parental consent, a 24-hour waiting period and a mandatory ultrasound that must be shown and described to the person seeking an abortion. The bill threatens to close 37 out of the 42 abortion clinics in the state of Texas. As Sen Davis pointed out,
This comes after more than 50 women’s health clinics providing cancer screening and family planning services were closed because the Republicans withdrew state-financed support from them.
There was tremendous protest against the bill, both in person and on social media. Anti-abortion supporters also showed up at the State Capitol, wearing blue (those in opposition to the bill wore orange). As The New York Times described it,
Signs and slogans have been everywhere, bearing long, impassioned arguments or the simple scrawl on a young man’s orange shirt, a Twitter-esque ‘@TXLEGE: U R dumb.’
Outside the chamber, the Huffington Post (via AP) reported that
the crowd grew so loud that troopers were being issued orange earplugs. [Pro-choice] protesters were shouting, ‘Shame! Shame! Shame!’ as senators gave their closing statements.
(Was it accidentally symbolic that the troopers plugged their ears with orange–indicated who they did not want to hear?) Police were out in force, and it was reported that they
searched every bag and confiscated anything that could be thrown—including, for part of the day and until the practice became an object of derision online, tampons. Department officials said the searches had turned up jars “suspected to contain” urine, feces and paint, along with glitter and confetti, but offered no proof.
The only upbeat news coming out of this defeat of women’s health care and their rights to control their bodies is that the outrage has invigorated voters throughout the state and the nation. As Heather Busby, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas put it in a press statement,
Texas voters came out in record numbers to oppose this bill every step of the way and they will turn out in record numbers at the next election.
We’ll continue to have coverage of this ongoing story.
Photo of Texas pro-choice protestsfrom Flickr user Ann Harkness under license from Creative Commons 2.0