Texas House debates controversial abortion bill


by MARK WIGGINS / KVUE News and Photojournalist SCOTT MCKENNEY

Bio | Email | Follow: @MarkW_KVUE


Posted on July 9, 2013 at 7:07 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jul 9 at 7:21 PM

AUSTIN -- The day began with a pair of white baby shoes meant to represent held by state Rep. Jodie Laubenberg (R-Parker), author of controversial anti-abortion legislation HB 2. 
Once again, the Texas House of Representatives debated new regulations on abortion doctors, clinics and drugs, including restrictions on abortions performed after 20 weeks of pregnancy. 
"Would this bill increase the cost of medical abortions?" asked state Rep. Jessica Farrar (D-Houston). Responding, Laubenberg claimed, "I would think that they would be getting better care, so they wouldn't have the complications, so the cost would probably be actually less."
"What about those other times when they are afraid to say that my stepfather has raped me and I'm pregnant?" asked state Rep. Senfronia Thompson (D-Houston), one of many Democrats who hoped to amend the bill Tuesday afternoon. 
Thompson's amendment would have made exceptions for rape and incest on the 20-week restrictions. The longest serving member of the House, Thompson, was joined by fellow Democrats holding coat hangers to represent illegal abortions.
"I know that you know that you don't want to put your constituents back to the back alleys of a knitting needle, turpentine, or a coat hanger," Thompson chided state Rep. Ron Simmons (R-Carrollton).
"I want my constituents just like you do, current and future, to have the best chance for life," Simmons responded, sparking an outburst from the gallery full of the bill's supporters and a sharp warning from state Rep. Charlie Geren (R-Fort Worth). 
Debate continued over whether requiring abortion clinics meet the facility standards of ambulatory surgical clinics would force most of them to close. 
"I think there's enough money that goes into Planned Parenthood and other entities such that if these facilities would like to stay open they will," state Rep. Stefani Carter (R-Dallas) told KVUE. "And they have to comply with Texas law in order to do so." 
"I'm not sure that's a fact," Thompson responded in an interview just outside the House chamber. "They have the votes to vote this bill out unfortunately, but it's a bill that's not about women and their rights, this bill is about bullying women and taking away their rights and helping somebody get through a Republican primary and raising money on the backs of women." 
Assuming the House votes to approve the bill on second reading Tuesday, lawmakers would still have to vote on the bill once more before it heads over to the Senate, where process starts all over again. However, lawmakers could potentially vote to suspend the rules for a vote on final passage Tuesday night as well.
Either way, there is much more debate still to come.


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