Man. We remember a time, long ago last legislative session, when all your state lawmakers wanted to do was talk about abortion and how much they hated it. They were super-duper against it, as they could not seem to stop talking about, so much so that they cheerily decimated the Texas Women's Health Program, which didn't provide abortions, pushing out the program's largest provider, Planned Parenthood, and forcing a bunch of poor ladies to either find a new doctor or just do without health care. Meanwhile, Texas lawmakers also passed that forced sonogram bill, to make sure that every woman having an abortion would get to feel just as violated as possible.
It was a magical time for Texas Republicans. But it seems to have slipped away. This legislative session, not a single anti-abortion bill has actually made it to the House or Senate floor.
With time quickly running out in the session -- the deadline for getting bills passed was yesterday -- not a single new anti-abortion law is going to make it to the governor's desk.
What the hell happened, Republicans?
The session was gearing up to be just as unpleasant as the last one. Representative Jodie Laubenberg filed that fetal pain bill, which relied on some really creative science to ban abortions after 20 weeks. A Senate Committee approved a bill to make every clinic that provides abortions meet the standards of an "ambulatory surgical center," a not-so-quiet backdoor way to shut down all but about six clinics in the state.
Another bill would've required all doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of their clinic, something that's basically impossible in many rural communities. There was also that bill to ban abortion based on gender, something that's never actually been an issue in Texas or anywhere else in the United States.
Then, after lots of sound and fury and shouting from Rick Perry's Hair about the sanctity of life, nothing happened. Not a single bill made it far enough to even be debated, as this breakdown from The Dallas Morning News shows. Every bill was either left pending in committee, or voted out of the committee and then just sort of quietly left dangling.
In the meantime, the Legislature quietly decided to restore all that money they'd cut from family planning. And the feds took away that enormous family planning grant from the state and gave it directly to a women's health coalition that would actually use it.
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Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst is vocally unhappy, sending out an email blast on Tuesday urging people to call their legislators and get the anti-abortion bills moving. When that and some of his other pet projects still failed to pass, he had to resort to sending out sulky, hashtag-heavy tweets:
— David Dewhurst (@DavidHDewhurst) May 23, 2013
Texas Democrats, meanwhile, are savoring this rare taste of victory. And Texas women, maybe, can breathe a smallish sigh of relief. For now.