Austin, TX. The Texas House of Representatives passed the omnibus Pro-Life bill early Monday morning after 8 hours of debate by a vote of 97-33 with 5 Democrats voting in favor of the bill and one Republican voting against. Senate Bill 5 would affirm the state's interest in protecting the lives of preborn children who feel pain by banning abortion at 20 weeks post-fertilization. Senate Bill 5 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 House cleared the last hurdle to final passage at 10:10am today by a vote of 95-34. SB 5 now returns to the State Senate for an up or down vote.
Opponents of the bill argued the same threadbare talking points, including offering amendments to SB 5 to provide exceptions to abort babies conceived in rape and incest. The House sponsor, Representative Jodie Laubenberg (R-Rockwall), reminded her colleagues that these babies can still feel pain and should not be victimized due to the circumstances of their conception. In poor taste, Representative Senfronia Thompson (D-Houston) waved a coat-hanger at the front microphone, implying that SB 5 would force women to take measures into their own hands and dangerously self-abort.
The Pro-Life Whip, Representative Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola), eventually “called the previous question,” which is a motion to end the debate and vote on the actual bill. Representative Sylvester Turner’s (D-Houston) complained that Pro-Life House members were rushing the process—despite a fair, 12-hour committee hearing and another 9 hours of floor debate; in response, Hughes stated, “Anyone who has been here would argue that this process has not been rushed. I know that this bill is what most folks in Texas want. The people of Texas would want us to take a position on this bill, whether that position is 'pro' or 'con.'”
SB 5 must pass through one last procedural move in the State Senate where two Democrat senators have made known their intention to filibuster. SB 5 must reach the desk of Pro-Life champ Governor Perry by midnight on Tuesday, the last day of the Special Session, in order to become law.