For the second time in three days, Democrats put up an epic, all-night fight against proposed abortion restrictions in Texas.
This time, they lost.
Republicans railroaded the legislation through the House of Representatives on a 97-33 vote right around 3 o'clock this morning after Democratic lawmakers' 15 hours of impassioned testimony/procedural jiu jitsu was cut short by a vote to stop taking amendments.
"This bill will ensure that women are given the highest standard of health care in a very vulnerable time in their life," Representative Jodie Laubenberg, the Parker Republican who shepherded the measure through the House, said just before the vote. "Sadly, too often today the back alley abortion is the abortion clinic because the standards for the providers and the facilities are too lax or substandard."
Her proposal would ban abortion after the 20th week of pregnancy and require clinics to meet the standards of ambulatory surgical centers, a move that is medically unnecessary and opposed by reality-based groups like the Texas Medical Association, the Texas Hospital Association and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. The practical effect of the measure would be to shut down 37 of the state's 42 abortion providers.
The irony in all this was not lost on the 800 or so protestors who packed the state Capitol, nor was it lost on Senator Senfronia Thompson, a Houston Democrat who angrily wielded a coat hanger to illustrate the likely affect of the cuts on women and likened the bill to Sharia law. She attempted to add an exception to the 20-week ban in cases of rape and incest, but the measure was tabled.
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Laubenberg explained: "In the emergency room they have what's called rape kits where a woman can get cleaned out. The woman had five months to make that decision, at this point we are looking at a baby that is very far along in its development."
The Associated Press describes this simply as "not accurate."
The bill now goes back to the Senate, which has until the end of the special session at midnight on Tuesday to consider the measure. Dems haven't yet given up, but a Republican victory is more or less assured -- in the short-term at least.
"Women are not going to tolerate the constant chipping away of their rights, we are not going to be bullied," Thompson said before the vote. "We are soldiers in the army of women's rights, and while today we may be outnumbered and out gunned, our cause is just and we shall prevail."