What’s been the impact of pro-abortion agitation outside the special session of the Texas legislature in Austin? Perhaps nothing more than focus. After defeating a series of amendments designed to weaken the late-term abortion ban the session was called to debate, the core bill passed by a 2-1 margin on its second reading in the lower chamber — four more ayes than the same bill got in the previous session:
After a full day of debate and pro-life votes to defeat almost two dozen pro-abortion amendments to weaken the bill, Texas legislators successfully approved on second reading a bill that will ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
Lawmakers voted 98-49 for the bill on second reading and a third reading vote is forthcoming, likely tomorrow, but the same margin is expected. The vote today for conditional approval is four more votes for the measure than the last time the House approved the bill before Wendy Davis’ infamous filibuster.
Five pro-life Democrats voted for HB2 including Guillen, Herrero, Martinez, Munoz, and Pickett while one Republican voted against it: Sarah Davis.
The bill would ban abortions after 20 weeks and hold abortion clinics accountable by making them meet basic health and safety standards that have closed facilities in other states that are unable to comply. The bill also requires all abortion clinics to meet the same health and safety regulations as an ambulatory surgical center, requires a doctor providing abortions to secure admitting privileges at a nearby hospital, and lastly, requires a doctor to personally administer the abortion-inducing drugs to the patient.
The bill will move to the state Senate after a third reading and vote, where no amendments can be offered and the House has to give the bill an up-or-down vote. That’s why the final vote is not expected to change much from yesterday, and why it shouldn’t take long for the third reading and vote. That is, unless the legislature gets disrupted again as it did last month, but the state of Texas has been much more prepared for that potential in this session than the previous.
The hero of late-term abortion defenders in that session, state Senator Wendy Davis, has more or less run up the white flag this time, thanks to the heightened security in the chamber:
“It will be very difficult because unfortunately the voices that have been here crying out against this bill are not going to be heard,” Davis told CNN in a brief interview.
“But I don’t think it’s the end. It’s the beginning of a battle line,” she added.
Last month, Davis staged an 11-hour filibuster that temporarily stalled the bill, which would ban abortions after 20 weeks and create new, potentially practice-ending requirements for doctors performing the procedures across the state.
Texas Governor Rick Perry responded to the legislative roadblock by calling lawmakers back for a special session to reconsider the measure, essentially assuring its speedy passage through the Republican controlled House and Senate.
Due to tough statehouse rules governing filibusters, top legislative aides in the Texas Capitol said it’s unlikely Davis would be able to stop the bill a second time.
“That’s probably the case,” Davis agreed.
“Voices crying out” have been heard for the last two weeks at the capitol, with demonstrators protesting constantly. What Davis is lamenting is that the demonstrators can’t shout the legislature into paralysis, using mob rule to get her way rather than representative democracy. That’s a strange position for an elected legislator to take, and I doubt she’d be so sanguine about mob rule if it was a tax hike under consideration and Tea Party activists in the gallery.
Just to remind Davis and others about the nature of the demonstrations, 62% of Texans favor a ban on late-term abortions — so it looks as though the voices of a large majority of Texans are being heard in the legislature. As another reminder, only a few demographics support abortion on demand throughout pregnancy outside of a margin of error; 50% of women support a 20-week abortion ban nationwide, according to a National Journal poll last month. It’s Davis’ side that’s in the minority … which is why she’s cheering mob rule rather than representative democracy.
Update: The bill passed on its third reading this morning, 96-49. It now moves to the state Senate.