Before the Texas House gaveled in this afternoon to take up measures related to abortion, people streamed onto the rotunda floor to get a T-shirt from Planned Parenthood. Then they filled up the House gallery and the space between the Senate and House on both floors.
Jan Soifer of Austin was wearing an orange dress as she waited in line to get her shirt. She is the chair of the Travis County Democratic Party.
"The idea is to let the Republicans know that Texas women are watching," Soifer said. "While we may have been silent until now, we're not going to remain silent. We're going to take note of what they're doing. If the Republicans follow through with this horrendous legislation, they're going to help us get people voting, and they're going to help us turn Texas blue."
But upstairs, Jacque Tate disagreed. She came to Austin from Largo Vista with a sign urging support for Senate Bill 5.
"We're arguing whether or not a life that's five months old, or a fetus that's five months old, has the right to live or die," Tate said. "What is the greater good for that life? Is it to end it when it can be born and offer all of its blessings to the world, including being adopted by a family that's waiting on a child or to terminate the life at five months and be absent of all the gifts every human offers to the world?"
The bills include House Bills 60 and 16 by State Rep. Jodie Laubenberg, R-Parker, and Senate Bill 5 by State Sen. Glenn Hegar, R-Katy. Among the provisions of these measures, they would ban abortion after 20 weeks, allow the procedure only in ambulatory surgical facilities and require physicians who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles from the location at which the procedure is done.