Texas is heatin’ up, and it isn’t just the weather: for the past few weeks, pro-choice and anti-abortion activists have battled it out outside the statehouse in Austin over the bill that would ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy. The bill would require all abortions to be performed at ambulatory surgical centers, even for non-surgical abortions (i.e. those using the RU-486 abortion pill), and force all doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles. If the bill is signed into law, only a few of the state’s 42 abortion clinics in Texas would remain open.
On June 25, State Senator Wendy Davis successfully blocked the bill with an 11-hour filibuster. But Texas Governor Rick Perry, who is anti-abortion, called a special session of the legislature and it is up for debate again. All week, both sides have been singing and chanting and arguing their point of views. You can watch a live feed of today’s debate here.
Last night, almost 500 Texans testified to a Senate committee for about two minutes each. The public testimony did not end until 1:45 a.m.
Both sides of the abortion debate held rallies at the State Capitol on Monday, with the anti-abortion side including speeches from former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and “19 Kids & Counting” reality TV stars Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar. Huckabee offensively compared abortion to slavery, while Michelle Duggar called abortion a “baby Holocaust.” (Rick Santorum is also expected to join the media circus later this week.) Videos of anti-abortion and pro-choice advocates show each team dressed in identifiable colors — orange (pro-choice) or blue (pro-life) — while anti-choicers sang “Amazing Grace” as pro-choicers taunted “Hail Satan!” Pro-lifers were seen praying and carrying baby shoes, while pro-choicers wore coat hangers on their clothes.
More anti-abortion groups are expected to flock to the capitol this week, including Students for Life. The anti-abortion group bussed students from as far as Washington D.C. to join the activists in Texas, and stopped at five different locations (four of them out of state) to pick up more students.
The State House of Representatives is expected to vote on the bill today.
[Photo via U.S. News & World Reports]