After the horrors revealed by the trial of Kermit Gosnell and his co-defendants for murder and negligent homicide, and especially for the filthy and inhumane conditions allowed by the state of Pennsylvania for the “Women’s Health Clinic,” one might think that abortion activists would be a little embarrassed to stage a splashy demonstration against a bill that limited abortions to 20 weeks and forced clinics to meet the same requirements as any other out-patient surgical center in a state. One would be sorely mistaken in Texas, apparently. When Republicans brought a bill to the state Senate floor to do both, a Democrat filibustered the bill for over 10 hours, interrupted with just minutes to spare for the final vote before the session expired. That’s when the gallery shouted down legislators and obstructed its operation, forcing Republicans to conceded that they couldn’t get the vote finished in time:
A petite Fort Worth Democrat in pink sneakers staged a 10-hour-plus filibuster marathon in which she never sat down. Abortion rights activists succeeded in disrupting Republican senators, and the fate of a bill that Gov. Rick Perry had made a priority devolved into a legislative mess so thick that even senators who had voted on the bill could not say for certain whether they had indeed voted on the bill.
The state Senate’s vote came right at a midnight Tuesday deadline, amid widespread confusion the noise of a chanting crowd of the bill’s opponents in an upstairs gallery. Senate Democrats said the vote took place past the deadline at 12:02 a.m. or 12:03 a.m., while Republicans disputed those claims, saying the vote was legitimate.
But at 3 a.m., Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, the presiding officer of the Senate and a Republican supporter of the bill, told lawmakers and reporters that although the bill passed on a 19-to-10 vote, the bill could not be signed in the presence of the Senate and was therefore dead, blaming “an unruly mob using Occupy Wall Street tactics” as the primary cause.
“With all the ruckus and noise going on,” Mr. Dewhurst said, he could not complete administrative duties to make the vote official and sign the bill. Senate Democrats and women’s right’s advocates said the real reason the vote could not be made official was a time stamp on official documents that showed the bill passed after midnight. The Legislature’s official Web site first posted that the Senate’s vote occurred on Wednesday, after the midnight deadline, but the date was later changed to Tuesday for unknown reasons.
So … when Tea Party activists do this in the future, liberals are going to be totally cool with it, right? Right?
And what exactly were these people obstructing? A requirement to treat abortions like any other surgical procedure by applying modern medical standards and regulation to those clinics. The Gosnell trial shows what transpires when states treat abortion clinics like temples of religious expression rather than clinics were invasive medical procedures take place. The bill would also have required abortionists to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles in case of an emergency, which opponents said would make abortions inconvenient in rural areas. Apparently, women who have medical emergencies in rural areas because of complications from abortion are more inconvenient to abortion activists than the need to have unregulated abortion mills out where no help can be found quickly.
In fact, the mob pretty much admitted that they’re not concerned with issues like patient safety:
Supporters of the bill, including Governor Perry and other top Republicans, said the measures would protect women’s health and hold clinics to safe standards, but women’s right’s advocates said the legislation amounted to an unconstitutional, politically motivated attempt to shut legal abortion clinics. The bill’s opponents said it will likely cause all but five of the 42 abortion clinics in the state to close, because the building renovations and equipment upgrades necessary to meet the surgical-center standards would be too costly.
Then why do other clinics that conduct invasive procedures have to pay the costs to meet those standards? If it’s too costly for abortions — a procedure that involves blood loss and possible perforation of internal organs — why do other ambulatory procedure clinics have to meet them? The standards are important for patient safety, that’s why, and it’s very clear that the opponents of the bill didn’t learn anything from the Gosnell trial about what happens in the absence of those standards.
Anyway, don’t expect this to last long. Dewhurst suggested that Governor Rick Perry might call another 30-day session of the legislature to finish this business. In the meantime, welcome to the new standard of democracy, in which shouting mobs rule rather than the democratic process.