Republicans in Texas have successfully forced final passage of one of the most draconian pieces of anti-abortion legislation in America late Friday night around midnight, all but wiping out a woman’s right to choose throughout the Lone Star State.
According to the Texas Tribune,
“The measure restricting abortions in Texas is now headed to Gov. Rick Perry’s desk, having passed as thousands of protesters who opposed the measure chanted in and around the Capitol. The crowd outside the chamber erupted after HB 2 passed with a vote of 19-11. But inside, there were none of the eruptions that helped kill the abortion bill in the first special session.
Democrats offered 20 amendments, ranging from proposals to add exceptions to the bill’s 20-week abortion ban for victims of rape and incest to requiring annual inspections of abortion facilities and allowing teen mothers to be excluded from a state law requiring parental consent for family planning services. All were rejected on party-line votes in a debate that lasted until nearly midnight on Friday.”
Once signed into law, women’s health will be in serious jeopardy in Texas. 37 of the state’s 42 abortion clinics will be forced to shut down due to the bill’s requirement that clinics become ambulatory surgical centers. Doctors who work at abortion clinics will be forced to gain admitting privileges at a local hospital, and considering that doctors are finding it impossible to gain such privileges in Mississippi, that same scenario is likely to occur in Texas as well. That means less doctors will be available to serve women. The bill also bans abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy under the false and scientifically rejected notion that fetuses feel pain at 20 weeks of development, and over-regulates the use of RU-486 to the point where women will be incredibly inconvenienced by having to visit their doctor to be supervised while taking the drug. State Senator Wendy Davis “pointed out that under HB 2 and a sonogram law passed in 2011, a woman would have to have four separate visits to the doctor if she took the drug.”
During debate and after passage of the bill, Republicans brought religion into the issue. GOP Senator Dan Patrick suggested “that senators who voted for the legislation were “listening a little closer” to God than those who opposed it” and Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst couldn’t have made it more clear that the legislation is motivated by extreme fundamentalist Christian views that currently dominate the GOP. Dewhurst said he prayed for members of the Senate “not to forget to love each other as Christ loved the church and as we love all those unborn babies.”
And with that, Republicans stripped women of their reproductive rights and freedom and hijacked their ability to make their own health decisions as some sort of sick Biblical mandate.
Instead of actually improving women’s health in Texas as Republicans claim, they have actually destroyed it with this bill. The extreme lack of clinics will ultimately force women to take desperate measures to get an abortion. This includes traveling into Mexico, and even a return to the coat hanger, both of which are highly unsafe options that will lead to the deaths of women who should have had access to legal, safe, and affordable abortions in their state. By passing this legislation, Republicans have made it clear that they want to subjugate women against their will. Massive crowds of women have fiercely protested the bill for weeks. If Republicans think their won’t be a significant backlash in future state and national elections because of their actions on Friday night, they are sorely mistaken.
Heroic Democratic Senator Wendy Davis, who famously filibustered for 11 hours to successfully kill the bill in the last special session, is already being called upon to run for Governor of Texas. Female voters are energized and engaged across the state like never before and Republicans will be forced to find another candidate to run after Rick Perry announced that he would not seek another term as Governor. Combine all three of those factors with the rise of the Latino demographic and Republicans may have just sealed their own political doom in Texas for decades to come. Women are outraged and it is a sure bet that they will remember what Republicans have done to them in state after state for many Novembers into the future.