AUSTIN, Texas — Long-fought legislation to toughen abortion restrictions in Texas moved one step closer to reality late Tuesday.
After more than 10 hours of debate, members of the Republican-led House voted 98-49 to give preliminary approval to a proposal geared to prevent abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy and put in place restrictions that essentially would shut down most abortion clinics in Texas.
Final House approval of the bill could come as soon as today, sending the issue to the Texas Senate, where it died in the final moments of the first special legislative session that ended last month. Democrats managed to thwart the measure with a filibuster by state Sen. Wendy Davis and loud noise from the crowd in the galleries that created pandemonium.
“This is great for Texas,” said GOP state Rep. Matt Krause, one of the many supporters of the bill. “It ensures that, when you have a major surgery that requires the taking of a life, (facilities) meet minimal health and safety standards.
“This will save thousands of lives and improve health care for women.”
State Rep. Chris Turner, a Democrat, disagreed.
He said this bill died before for a reason: because it is “bad policy.” And it should have stayed dead, he said.
“Let’s not say the bill is about women’s health or about public safety,” said Turner. “It will do a lot to prevent safe and legal abortions. … This bill is about shutting down clinics.”