AUSTIN -- The House State Affairs Committee passed a controversial abortion bill. Just after midnight Wednesday, the committee passed House Bill 2. Hundreds of people were still waiting to testify at midnight when the committee closed off public testimony and took a vote. Ninety percent of those who signed up to speak were turned away.
The bill now moves to the full House for debate. A vote by them is expected some time next week.
Earlier inside the Capitol Extension, hundreds of other abortion opponents began lining up and signing up to speak hours in advance, each prepared to testify on House Bill 2. Many brought along their children as well.One by one in front of a majority Republican committee, people took to the podium, some providing emotional testimony.
House Bill 2 would ban most abortions after 20 weeks and institute tough new standards for clinics.
Overflow rooms and hallways were full of people hoping to get inside that committee hearing. Some wanted to observe, others wanted to testify themselves, but with nearly 800 names on the list many of them didn't get the chance to speak.
In total, more than 3,500 people came to the Capitol to register their position. More than 1,000 people signed up to tell their story to the House committee.
Legislators told the gallery they would cut off testimony after eight hours, and they did. There was some push back, but it was peaceful.
Amy Cornwell drove from San Antonio to speak out in support of the controversial bill. As a teen she decided to keep her baby. She rarely shares her story, but says she can't keep quiet any longer.
"If I could be the face of a mom that's chosen life and be a success, then I want to be that face for moms," said Amy.
Dr. Bradley price, an Austin OBGYN, testified fifth before the committee. He says House Bill 2 goes too far and would shut down a majority of abortion clinics in Texas.
"Abortions are safe and legal already in Texas, very low risk. This is all about politics. This is not about women's health," said Dr. Price.
After his three minutes, committee members asked questions, looking for specific details on how an abortion is performed.
"The legislature really can't speak for women. I work with women every day all day for 40 years. I know what they go through. I think I have a much better handle on it than the legislature does," said Dr. Price.
A vote followed the public hearing. The bill passed in the House committee eight to three.
Texas troopers stood at the ready in case the gathering that included those on both sides of the issue got out of hand, but everyone in the crowd insisted, they just wanted the chance for lawmakers to hear their voices and views.
The bill must now be approved by a simple majority in the full House and Senate before Governor Perry can sign it.
The second special session will last for a total of 30 days.