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Texas gov signs sweeping abortion restrictions

By Will Weissert

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 09:25 a.m. HST, Jul 18, 2013

AUSTIN, Texas » Texas Gov. Rick Perry signed sweeping new abortion restrictions today that could shutter most of the state's clinics that provide the procedure, a final step for the Republican-backed measure after weeks of sometimes raucous protests at the state Capitol.

Supporters credited God's will and prayer as the governor signed the legislation, with protesters' chants of "Shame! Shame! Shame!" echoing from the hallway. Opponents have vowed to fight the law, though no court challenges were immediately filed.

"Today, we celebrate the further cementing of the foundation on which the culture of life in Texas is built upon," Perry told an auditorium full of beaming GOP lawmakers and anti-abortion activists. "It is our responsibility and duty to give voice to the unborn individuals."

The law restricts abortions to surgical centers and requires doctors who work at abortion clinics to have hospital admitting privileges. Only five of the 42 abortion clinics in Texas — the nation's second-largest state — currently meet those new requirements. Clinics will have a year to either upgrade their facilities or shut down after the law takes effect in October.

The law also bans abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy, based on the disputed notion that fetuses can feel pain at that point of development, and dictates when abortion-inducing drugs can be taken.

Supporters argue the new law will ensure high-quality health care for women, but opponents view it as over-regulation intended to make abortions harder to obtain.

Similar measures in other states have been blocked by federal judges, and opponents in Texas said they would pursue a similar course.

"The fight over this law will move to the courts, while the bigger fight for women's access to health care in Texas gains steam," Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund, said in a statement.

Perry and other top Republican leaders made passing the law a top priority, in part to please the most conservative wing of the party before the primary election in March. But it touched off weeks of protests that saw thousands of activists on both sides of the issue descend on the Texas Capitol in an outpouring of activism unseen in at least 20 years.

After the regular legislative session ended May 27, Perry added passing the abortion measure to lawmakers' agenda for a 30-day special session. But on the last day to pass bills, Democratic Sen. Wendy Davis staged a more than 12-hour, one-woman filibuster hoping to talk past a midnight deadline and kill the legislation.

Republicans used parliamentary objections to silence Davis, but just before midnight hundreds of bill opponents in the Senate gallery screamed and cheered so loudly that all work stopped on the Senate floor below until it was too late. It launched Davis into an overnight political sensation.

But Perry called lawmakers back for a second special session — setting up the bill's final approval last week.

"When Governor Perry signed the bill, he signaled a clear break with Texas families," Davis said in a statement today. She said Perry and his party's elected officials "have now taken sides and chosen narrow partisan special interests over mothers, daughters, sisters and every Texan who puts the health of their family, the well-being of their neighbors, and the future of Texas ahead of politics and personal ambitions."

The signing ceremony was moved from Perry's office on the second floor of the Capitol to a basement auditorium, surrounded by dozens of state troopers who tightly controlled who entered and braced for potentially hundreds of activists. Instead, only about two dozen showed up, clutching coat-hangers and signs that read "My Body, My Choice" and "Shame!"

Perry drew applause for warmly greeting and shaking hands with Dem. Sen. Eddie Lucio of Brownsville, the only Senate Democrat who supported the bill.

As the governor and other lawmakers spoke, protesters repeatedly chanted "shame!" loud enough to be heard. Once the bill was signed, they hooted and then sang Twisted Sister's "We're Not Gonna Take It!"

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who oversees the state Senate, blamed "intentional chaos created by the radical left" for the bill not passing sooner.

That was a common sentiment among supporters. The Catholic Association said in a statement: "Rick Perry is a brave man for standing up to the mob tactics of the abortion lobby and has earned the respect of pro-life women and men across the country."

Republican Rep. Jodie Laubenberg, who sponsored the bill in the Texas House and mistakenly suggested during debate that emergency room rape kits could be used to terminate pregnancies, said: "It really was the hand of God" and prayer that helped make the signing possible. Laubenberg told Perry, who announced last week that he wouldn't seek a fourth full term as governor next year, that: "Your eternal legacy will be as a defender of life."

Sen. Glenn Hegar, a Katy Republican who sponsored the bill in the Senate, called it "a very proud day in Texas history."

"This will literally change the lives of millions of Texans," Hegar said. "Not just today in 2013, but for eternity."

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onevoice82 wrote:
The tide is changing! Thank you Texas for showing us what it means to be tough!
on July 18,2013 | 05:34AM
st1d wrote:
women should have access to a safe abortion.

the state should assist with funding for those who seek abortions in cases of rape or if the pregnancey puts their lives are at risk.

however, if the abortion is sought for cosmetic reasons or the result of recreational or professional sex, the abortions should be privately funded and no state funding allowed.

on July 18,2013 | 05:47AM
lee1957 wrote:
Why should the state be funding abortions, isn't that what Planned Parenthood is for?
on July 18,2013 | 11:23AM
st1d wrote:
the state should assist with funding in the events of rape or when the health of the mother is at risk.

all other cases should be self or privately funded.

you do realize that planned parenthood gets some federal and state funding.

on July 18,2013 | 01:20PM
LanaUlulani wrote:
All propaganda. I am PRO choice but 20 weeks after fertilization is a 5 month old in utero. Props to those who are also mindful of them and not just about Wendy Davis!
on July 18,2013 | 05:49AM
Ronin006 wrote:
I used to be pro-choice but when it was made a felony to harm or destroy a sea turtle egg, I thought the same should apply to a human egg (fetus).
on July 18,2013 | 06:20AM
gypsy wrote:
I think there's a difference between a female sea turtle producing eggs, and a female human who wants to abort.
on July 18,2013 | 07:39AM
Ronin006 wrote:
You don't get it. Under current laws, society places more value on protecting the life of an unborn sea turtle egg than it places on an unborn human.
on July 18,2013 | 09:21AM
ellinaskyrt wrote:
A turtle's egg is outside of the turtle's body. Turtles are an endangered species.
on July 18,2013 | 09:26AM
lee1957 wrote:
....and society places more value on protecting the life of an unborn seat turtle...........
on July 18,2013 | 11:24AM
kainalu wrote:
This debate wasn't about abortion. It was about the concept of a group of predominantly elder white-males making that very personal choice for ALL women.
on July 18,2013 | 06:30AM
busterb wrote:
Amazed Perry remembered what he wanted to shut down!
on July 18,2013 | 07:54AM
Cricket_Amos wrote:
What a stupid bigoted biased argument. Perhaps from now on no WOMEN should have a say in whether or not any MAN should have to pay child support of alimony??
on July 18,2013 | 07:55AM
ellinaskyrt wrote:
If a man wants to keep a baby that a woman doesn't want to keep, he's welcome to house it in his own body and birth it.
on July 18,2013 | 09:27AM
AlexandriaB wrote:
Shame, shame, shame, indeed, State of Texas. Let me guess... the politicians who passed this were all MEN! Women's rights have taken a major step backward.
on July 18,2013 | 06:32AM
Pacej001 wrote:
And what exactly should they be ashamed of? As I read it, the law is aimed at preventing another Gosnell horror show in requiring higher standards and admitting rights for abortion clinics. It also sets a 20 week limit and allows exceptions for severe deformity or for a woman's health impact. What is wrong with that? More to the point, what, to you, would be acceptable restrictions on abortion? None? Is killing a viable baby morally acceptable? Is it morally acceptable to perform the barbaric partial birth procedure on a baby before the point of viability if that procedure causes the "fetus" to feel pain? Most European countries restrict abortions after 12 weeks. Six states already have 20 weWhat is so egregious about the new Texas limit? Six states already have 20 week limits. However, there is still a reasonable cause for shame: Some states continue to permit late term abortion, the termination of a viable child. Tell me, why is this not barbaric.
on July 18,2013 | 08:22AM
OldFut808 wrote:
Unless a man can pop a baby out of his penis he should have NO input regarding women's reproductive choices. While the middle east has the Taliban that treats women like a pet chicken (notice I didn't even say a dog), we in the modern society of the U.S.A. has the Republican party and bible thumpers trying to treat women like a pet dog (okay, better than a chicken). Slowly Pro-Choice rights are getting chipped away until the Pro-Lifers get what they want. Women voters must remember and vote these clowns out before it's too late.
on July 18,2013 | 06:58AM
Aieagrl wrote:
Abortion should be legal and available to everyone for free. It should also be encouraged for those who get pregnant out of wedlock.
on July 18,2013 | 08:23AM
Cricket_Amos wrote:
Why stop there, why not also allow it to be retroactive? There is a professor, I think at Princeton, who wants the cutoff to be 44 weeks. This means you can still have it killed 4 weeks after it is born if you change your mind about the whole thing. After all, you gave birth to it, it came out of YOUR body, so who as the right to interfere with YOUR choice. And it will still be a year before it can voice any objection to what is being done to it, so let's up it to, say, 92 weeks while we are at it.
on July 18,2013 | 09:14AM
ellinaskyrt wrote:
Whom is this professor? I Googled and could find no reference to such a person.
on July 18,2013 | 09:29AM
Pacej001 wrote:
"In 1993, ethicist Peter Singer shocked many Americans by suggesting that no newborn should be considered a person until 30 days after birth and that the attending physician should kill some disabled babies on the spot. Five years later, his appointment as Decamp Professor of Bio-Ethics at Princeton University ignited a firestorm of controversy, though his ideas about abortion and infanticide were hardly new. In 1979 he wrote, “Human babies are not born self-aware, or capable of grasping that they exist over time. They are not persons”; therefore, “the life of a newborn is of less value than the life of a pig, a dog, or a chimpanzee.” Peter Singer, Practical Ethics, 1st ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979), 122–23.
on July 18,2013 | 09:47AM
Pacej001 wrote:
Good response to the moral vacuum described by Aieagrl's post. She's probably around 19 yrs old, so why not make the abortion cutoff at age 20?
on July 18,2013 | 09:46AM
Pacej001 wrote:
Or, maybe abortion should be managed by something called a Social Productivity Quotient (just made that up)--- the contribution of a person to society relative to their consumption of scarce resources. Under such a scheme, I'd imagine that the herd of Ivy League university "ethicists" would be thinned significantly.
on July 18,2013 | 09:52AM
Aieagrl wrote:
If it was legit, sure, why not. Girls now days have no problem popping a pill the day after, why not do the same post birth. Just imagine, no downs syndrome, no autism, no orphaned children... The humane society does it to puppies and kittens all the time.
on July 18,2013 | 01:29PM
Pacej001 wrote:
Groovy. What's a few dead kids here or there. After all, if they were born into poverty they just might stay there. Mo betta dead, well, except for the ones who work hard, get scholarships and succeed. Same with down syndrome kids since they have permanently dulled perceptions and abilities----- sort of like people with below average IQs. Maybe them to? what would the cutoff be? 70? 80? I think you're on to something. There are whole classes of undesirables out there who would be better off if they just didn't live.
on July 18,2013 | 02:23PM
lee1957 wrote:
Its your choice, you pay for it. You want me to pay for it, I'm part of the decision making process.
on July 18,2013 | 11:26AM
pauoavalley wrote:
Am I missing something? The morning-after or Plan B pill is available now for about $50 at Walmart (cheaper at Walgreen's - I heard) for those who are at least 18 years old.
on July 18,2013 | 04:55PM
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