Gov. Perry signs abortion bill into law



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Posted on July 18, 2013 at 7:21 AM

Updated Thursday, Jul 18 at 6:42 PM

AUSTIN -- Governor Rick Perry signed the state's controversial abortion legislation into law Thursday morning.

“This will literally change the lives of millions in Texas, not just today in 2013, but for the future and for eternity,” said State Senator Glenn Hegar (R) Katy. 

He sat inside an auditorium at the Texas Capitol surrounded by lawmakers who helped pass the controversial legislation.

House Bill 2 bans most abortions in Texas after 20 weeks. It also regulates abortion clinics. Those clinics will now have to follow the same guidelines as ambulatory surgical centers.

Protestors said Texas leaders should be ashamed of themselves.
"Rick Perry should be ashamed of himself. David Dewhurst should be ashamed of himself. And Greg Abbott should be ashamed of himself because the three of them together are doing everything they can to destroy any kind of rights that women have for bodily autonomy," said protestor Katherine Miller.

Others who support the legislation are celebrating the new law.

"This is a momentous day for the cause of life," said HB 2 co-author Representative Jodie Laubenberg, (R) Parker.

Perry and supporters of the bill praise it as "pro-life legislation."

“At five months many studies indicate these children feel the pain of their own deaths. It is our responsibility and duty to give voice to the unborn,” said Governor Perry. 

A small group of protesters gathered outside the auditorium. Many shouted the word "Shame!" as Gov. Perry signed the bill.

“The blood of Texas women is on your hands!” yelled some.

The bill also requires doctors performing abortions have hospital admitting privileges and the procedures be done in surgical centers. Only five of the 42 abortion clinics in Texas meet that requirement.

Those who oppose the bill argue it will force most abortion clinics in the state to close. They say those clinics can't afford to make the changes necessary to meet the new regulations. The group dressed in black. Several protesters wore tape over their mouths. Others shouted their disapproval.

"Clinics who don't comply, they don't shut down. They continue to provide women's health, they just can't provide an abortion," said Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurts (R).

Opponents, including Miller, say the bill will limit access, making abortions only avaiable to wealthy women who can afford to go to surgical centers. The protestors all held wire hangers.

"My hanger is a wire hanger because that's what we're going to go back to if women do not have access to safe, legal, accessible abortion," said Miller. “It's very important that people understand what access really means. It's not just for rich women which is basically what all of these omnibus laws are going to do is make it so that only certain women of certain means are going to be able to access medical care."

Miller volunteers with the Lilith Fund for Reproductive Equity. The organization helps low income women pay for abortions. She says she has seen what happens when access is limited.

"I've already talked to women who have tried to take herbs, who have tried to self-abort on my hotline shift," said Miller.

Still, supporters argue the bill protects women.

"At the end of the day, House Bill 2 makes sure that anyone performing abortions in the State of Texas is doing so in a facility that meets appropriate safety guidelines and that people there are prepared to handle any emergencies that might occur,” said Perry. “That is reasonable. That is common sense."

The bill goes into effect in October. Abortion clinics have until September 2014 to meet the new guidelines. Only five of the current 42 abortion clinics in Texas currently meet those standards.

There could be some legal backlash against the bill. The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas is working with its coalition to see what legal and legislative options they have to fight the bill.