Republicans in the Texas Legislature passed their controversial abortion bill late last week, but Democrats vowed to fight it in court and at the ballot box.
Over 2,000 demonstrators filled the Capitol building in Austin to oppose the bill, and police drug six out of the Senate chamber for disrupting the debate.
The Republican majority in the Lone Star State legislature ultimately passed the bill unchanged Friday, with all but one Democrat voting against it.
“Today the Texas Legislature took its final step in our historic effort to protect life,” said Gov. Rick Perry, who will sign the bill into law in the next few days.
“This legislation builds on the strong and unwavering commitment we have made to defend life and protect women’s health,” added Perry.
Democrats, though, promised a fight in the courts.
“There will be a lawsuit. I promise you,” Dallas Sen. Royce West said on the Senate floor, raising his right hand as if taking an oath in protest.
The bill will ban abortions after 20 weeks, require abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital and require all abortions take place in surgical centers.
Amendments were proposed ranging from exceptions for rape and incest to allowing doctors more leeway in prescribing abortion-inducing drugs.
But Republicans would have none of it.
The bill is just one of many across the nation championed by anti-abortion groups dead set on mounting a constitutional challenge to Roe vs Wade.
But the measure has also sparked protests in Texas not seen in least 20 years, with thousands of abortion rights supporters flooding the Capitol.
Protesters finished a filibuster started by Democratic Sen. Wendy Davis by jeering for the last 15 minutes of the first special session, effectively killing the bill.
Perry called lawmakers back for round two, but opponents said the fight is far from over and used the popular anger to register and organize voters.
“Let’s make sure that tonight is not an ending point, it’s a beginning point for our future, our collective futures, as we work to take this state back,” Davis said.
The Texas Republican Party, meanwhile, celebrated what they considered a major victory that makes Texas “a nationwide leader in pro-life legislation.”
Democrats pointed out that childbirth is more dangerous than an abortion and there have been no serious problems with women taking abortion drugs.
Cecile Richards, daughter of former Gov. Anne Richards and president of Planned Parenthood, said the GOP won this round, but it could cost them down the road:
“All they have done is built a committed group of people across this state who are outraged about the treatment of women and the lengths to which the Legislature will go to take their care away.”
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