The Texas House passed a bill restricting abortions today after a failed attempt to add funding for adoptions to the legislation. The bill—which requires abortionists to obtain admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, restricts abortions to surgical centers, and bans the procedure after 20 weeks—now heads to the state Senate, where it is expected to pass as early as Friday.
Today’s vote came after 10 hours of debate yesterday and a provisional vote for the bill last night. All but one Republican voted for it, along with four Catholic Democrats.
Gov. Rick Perry, who called two special sessions to get the bill past the Legislature, said in a statement today: “The tremendous outpouring of support for this legislation has demonstrated how Texas stands for life, and I commend everyone who wore blue, turned out and spoke up in support of life in our state. Now is not the time to waver, however, as the Senate continues its important work in support of women’s health and protecting the lives of our most vulnerable Texans.”
The failed amendment would have added funding for the Adoption Assistance Program, which provides money to families adopting children out of the foster care system. The amendment’s author, Rep. Ruth McClendon, D-San Antonio, said it added necessary funds to care for an increase in the number of foster children once the state implements abortion restrictions.
But the bill’s author, Rep. Jody Laubenberg, R-Parker, said the Legislature had appropriated enough money for foster children, and cheered the bill’s passage: “I am proud of the step we’ve taken to protect both babies and women. I think it speaks volumes about who we are as humanity.”
While rallying pro-life supporters in blue and pro-abortion supporters in orange filled the Capitol steps Tuesday night, the rotunda remained quiet today—few waited around for the inevitable vote. But Students for Life of America (SFLA), which rolled its 56-seater bus into Austin Monday, stuck around. The group will stay until the Senate passes the bill, but whether or not it has accommodations is another story.
SFLA had worked out an agreement with the local YMCA in Austin for students to use its showers during normal business hours. But after pro-abortion supporters complained, the YMCA backed out of the deal. A YMCA of Austin press release on the incident said the group caused an unwanted political debate: “If any person or group enters our facilities and creates an atmosphere that is disruptive, we have an obligation to our members and program participants to ask that person or group to leave or to refuse them access.”
Alexa Coombs, director of external relations for SFLA, said the week-long shower arrangement caused no qualms the morning the bus arrived, adding that the YMCA staff had been “friendly” and “respectful.” But that quickly changed after pro-abortion supporters complained.
The YMCA remained neutral on the issue of abortion, saying: “There are appropriate places in which to conduct a political debate, and that place is down the street at the State Capitol, not at our YMCA.”
Coombs, who traveled to Austin with students, said the allegations of starting a debate aren’t true: “We were not disruptive and we did not conduct any political debate. We simply wore blue shirts, minded our own business, and went in and out quickly. The YMCA even said we were great. Truly it was the pro-abortion supporters who were disruptive and brought politics into it.”
The YMCA contacted the group later and is working on an agreement to let SFLA use its showers after 10 p.m., when regular business hours end. Coombs said the suggestion makes the group “feel like second class citizens having to sneak in the back” and hopes the YMCA will return to its original arrangement.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.