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Texas House Passes Broad Restrictions on Abortions

Wendy Davies will now need to do another filibuster, but would it work this time?

On Tuesday, the Texas House of Representatives approved by 98-49 a number of abortion restrictions. The final vote is expected on Wednesday. Previously, however, the House had approved the same proposal including a ban after 20 weeks of pregnancy, but the bill failed to clear in Senate after Democratic Senator Wendy Davis held a quite historic 11-hour filibuster.

Texas Governor Rick Perry called lawmakers to Austin for a second special session for reconsidering the proposal. Since the second special session began on July 1, thousands of people have been holding rallies at the Capitol.

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Following Tuesday’s vote, opponents of the bill cheered the lawmakers who had opposed.

During a day of emotional debate Representative Jason Villalba, a Republican expecting a baby boy showed his colleagues a sonogram of his “son” and said “We fight this fight because of innocent human life.”

The ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy assumes that fetuses start feeling pain after 20 weeks. The research on which the assumption is based has been challenged by those who hold the research as insufficient. However, the 20-week provision has been accepted in one version or another by at least a dozen states.

The Texas law differs from similar versions in that it doesn’t provide exemption to victims of rape or incest. Representative Senfronia Thompson, a Democrat who opposed the bill said, “I don’t think that you want to traumatize (a) young woman by making her carry a child that her stepfather has impregnated her with, or her father.” Thompson tried unsuccessfully to incorporate an amendment to exempt victims of rape or incest from the abortion ban after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

Planned Parenthood said that the new restrictions, if made law, would cause 36 out of their 42 abortion clinics in Texas to close. However, the author of the bill, Republican Jodie Laubenberg said no such facility would be compelled to close.

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