Activists on both sides of the Texas abortion battle swarmed the statehouse on Monday ahead of the vote tomorrow on abortion restriction bill HB2. Some even brought props — Republican state Sen. Bob Deuell set out two pairs of baby sneakers at the beginning of today's Senate hearing, for "those who will never get to testify."
HB2 is expected to pass, given the Republican majority. If it does, the Senate could debate their version of the bill, SB1, on Thursday, and Gov. Rick Perry could approve it by the end of the week. Have the Democrats given up?
Pro-choicers had the momentum after state Sen. Wendy Davis's legendary, almost 13 hour filibuster last month, but once Perry called the current special legislative session, things stopped looking hopeful for them. Democratic attempts to hold hearings around the state, instead of just the capitol, were denied. The Republicans are determined to push the bill through. Still, thousands of citizens have gathered at the capitol building to watch and testify at the Senate hearing on the bill. Supporters are wearing blue, and opponents, orange. Davis tweeted a photo of the scene this morning:
Supporters of the bill have scheduled a rally to begin at 7p.m. on Monday. Opponents have scheduled no official gathering. Democratic state Sen. Kirk Watson tweeted a photo of an inspirational t-shirt, urging Texas women to not give up and remember, "This is Texas, baby. Remember the Alamo." (Note: All of the Texans died at the Alamo, making it perhaps not the most inspiring metaphor.)
Should the legislation pass, abortions after 20 weeks will be banned. This is not the most effective part of the law, however. It's the restrictions on health clinics, which will shut down all but a few of Texas's abortion providers. Under the new legislation, clinics will have to be within 30 miles of a hospital, and women will no longer be able to take the abortion-inducing drug RU-486 in person, which will require at least three visits to a clinic. Abortions will also have to be performed in an ambulatory surgical center — this would force many clinics to either remodel their spaces or close.
"We’re going to pass some restrictions on abortion. Texas is a place where we defend life. I mean, that’s the powerful message here and that’s what we’re focused on and politics will take care of itself."
You can watch a live feed of the hearing here.