Thousands of pro-abortion protesters cloaked in burnt orange, the University of Texas at Austin colors, demonstrated in Austin today. Activists held signs with the Texas Longhorns’ famed emblem mimicked by the silhouette of an orange uterus on a white backdrop. Pro-life supporters stood out in bold hues of blue. They sang “Amazing Grace” in the capitol’s rotunda, attempting to drown out the noise of the pro-abortion forces.
The second special session of the Texas legislature, set to finalize the state’s 20-week abortion ban, started at 2 p.m. today and will run for no longer than 30 days
Texas Gov. Rick Perry called the special session last week after protestors blocked Senate Bill 5 from final approval despite a 19-10 vote to pass it. After a 12-hour filibuster from pro-abortion heroine Wendy Davis, an “unruly angry mob” of protesters prevented legislators from passing the bill by the midnight deadline. The impressive demonstration was praised by supporters as “democracy at its finest.”
But was democracy accomplished or foiled? The bill would ban abortion after 20 weeks and require abortion facilities to follow the same health and safety regulations as ambulatory surgical centers. If passed, it would effectively shut down 37 of the 42 abortion facilities in Texas. The bill enforces security measures by requiring facilities to secure admitting privileges at local hospitals and for doctors to be the ones to personally administer chemical abortions (RU486). Polls show the majority of Texans won’t sweat the loss—62 percent of state residents support the abortion bill. In fact, 49 percent think abortion should be illegal altogether, or legal only in the case of rape. Only 36 percent thought abortion should be a woman’s choice, on demand.
Perry said he called the second special session to finish what legislators started: “We will not allow the breakdown of decorum and decency to prevent us from doing what the people of this state hired us to do.”
The bill has been re-filed in both the Texas House (HB2) and Senate (SB9)—it will be heard in the House tomorrow at noon and voted on next week before moving to the Senate.
The Legislature’s Republican majority has vowed to pass wide-ranging abortion restrictions quickly and easily this time, even as opponents mobilize for more protests. Sen. Wendy Davis spoke at today’s rally, telling protestors because of the thousands who came together last week to fight for women, “I believe in Texas more than ever.”
Planned Parenthood believes in Texas too, which is why it joined with a grassroots activist organization on Craigslist to hire protesters to fundraise for its efforts in Texas. The campaign is offering those who sign up $1,300 to $2,200 a month to fundraise. The listing went up just two days before today’s rally. The campaign is not directly related to the rally but does work directly with Planned Parenthood to fund its efforts there and other places in Texas.
The action at the capitol may turn out to be just a show and likely won’t have the same effect it had last session. Both the House and Senate could simply gavel in long enough to assign committees to hear new versions of the bills they plan to pass, then adjourn for the rest of the week, which includes the Fourth of July holiday.