Special Session News

Texas Senate passes controversial abortion bill but Dems vow to keep fighting

Texas Senate passes abortion bill but Dems vow to keep fighting

KVUE — Opponents in orange, supporters in blue all sat quietly in the Texas Senate gallery as Texas Department of Public Safety troopers stood watch.

The day began with a stern warning not to replicate the outburst that drowned out a vote on the same legislation after a day-long filibuster by state Sen. Wendy Davis (D-Fort Worth), at the end of the last special session.

 "My friends, we're going to keep standing," said Sen. Wendy Davis after the vote. "We're going to stand to seek justice for those who are treated with injustice in this state."

"As the governor said, we will not tolerate any outburst in the Senate," cautioned Sen. Kevin Eltiffe. "We will maintain decorum this entire session."   

With Democrats well out of filibuster range and Republicans with the votes needed for passage, it was the final debate over a controversial bill banning abortions after 20 weeks and imposing strict new standards on abortion providers and clinics.

"Those that don't meet that standard would close," Davis told Sen. Glenn Hegar (R-Katy), the Senate sponsor of House Bill 2 and author of Senate Bill 5 during the first called session of the 83rd Texas Legislature.

"I've never believed that they all would close, because there was a time period to allow them to come up to those standards," Hegar contended.

Democrats offered a total of 20 amendments, such as exceptions to the 20-week ban for rape and incest.

"I could go the rest of the evening giving you horror stories," state Sen. John Whitmire (D-Houston), said during an emotional exchange with Hegar. "We know that this is a reasonable amendment, and if it's not accepted it's only pure politics and that makes me sick at my stomach because we can do better."

"If that makes you sick, I'm sorry. But I'm going to stand here today as the author of this bill, and I'm going to defend it on what I believe is right," Hegar replied.

Republicans struck down each amendment, ensuring a final vote would go directly to Gov. Rick Perry. After nearly 10 hours of debate, it was on its way with a 19-11 vote. As hundreds of protesters gathered at the Capitol steps afterward, Senate Democrats vowed the fight would continue.

"My friends, we're going to keep standing," Davis said. "We're going to stand not just for Texas women; we're going to stand for Texas school children. We're going to stand to seek justice for those who are treated with injustice in this state."

While both sides acknowledge the legislation is likely headed to a fierce court battle, Republicans voiced confidence in the law's constitutionality.

"We make sure before we bring it to the floor we believe it will hold constitutional muster," said state Sen. Dan Patrick (R-Houston).

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Sentate passes abortion bill
Controversial abortion legislation is headed to Rick Perry. Courtesy of KVUE News