Abortion

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, KUT News

Gov. Rick Perry is fond of special sessions. Since 2000, he's called for 11 special sessions as governor. And, after the legislative fireworks in the final hours of the last special session, Gov. Perry called yet another special session, bringing lawmakers back to Austin to address transportation, criminal justice and abortion regulations not covered last session's call.

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Gov. Rick Perry went after State Sen. Wendy Davis today in a speech to a national anti-abortion group in Dallas over Davis’ 11-hour filibuster this week that helped block an abortion bill from passing.

Perry said her own birth and life under difficult circumstances — Davis was born to a single mother and was herself a single mother at age 19 — should have taught her to take Perry’s side on the issue.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, KUT News

Gov. Rick Perry has added abortion restrictions, transportation funding and criminal justice legislation to his call for the second 2013 special session, on the heels of the abortion bill’s failure a day ago.

Republicans tried to get a vote out on Senate Bill 5 before midnight Tuesday, the session’s last day. But they attributed the failure of the abortion-related measure to the activists in the galleries.

Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

Do so-called rape kits in Texas include an internal surgical procedure similar to abortion? That’s what a Republican legislator recently  suggested in a House debate.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, KUT News

Just hours after Senate Democrats were able to use parliamentary procedure and loud advocates to block passage of an abortion bill, Texas Gov. Rick Perry has announced he's calling lawmakers back to Austin for a second special session beginning July 1st.

On the agenda so far, abortion legislation that regulates the procedure and clinics, transportation funding and the creation of a life with parole sentence for juveniles convicted of capitol murder.

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Hundreds of supporters in orange shirts were at the Texas Capitol throughout the day on Tuesday and into Wednesday morning, hoping to watch State Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, successfully filibuster Senate Bill 5

Veronica Zaragovia for KUT News

Update: It's clear this morning that the vote to pass SB 5 came too late. The filibuster by State Sen. Wendy Davis was successful. Davis took to twitter with the news:

Veronica Zaragovia for KUT News

The filibuster of the 2013 special session filibuster took an emotional detour, temporarily.

Earlier today, Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, helped State Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, with a back brace. Sen. Davis has been standing because she launched a filibuster this morning to kill an abortion-related measure, Senate Bill 5.

Veronica Zaragovia for KUT News

You're probably aware of Sunday night's marathon hearing on an omnibus abortion bill in the Texas Legislature.

The bill would restrict abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, require all clinics to be certified as ambulatory surgical centers and require abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at a local hospital. After a vote this morning, that bill is out of the House and in the Senate, where a few things could happen to either pass or block the bill before the special session ends midnight Tuesday. So let's go over a couple of the scenarios:

Ben Philpott

Update: House members voted 95 to 34 to pass Senate Bill 5. Now it’s back to the Senate, which already approved the bill, but will have to vote on it again – because its initial version didn’t include the abortion ban after 20 weeks.

Lawmakers are running out of time to take action during this special session. It ends tomorrow at midnight. There’s talk of a filibuster in the Senate to run out the clock.

Update: House gaveled in just after 9 a.m. A handful of Democrats have showed up.

Veronica Zaragovia, KUT News

The Texas House gave preliminary approval to one of the most controversial bills of the 2013 special session – Senate Bill 5. The House is reconvening this morning.

Among its provisions, the measure would ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy and would only allow abortions to take place at facilities that meet the standards of ambulatory surgical centers.

Democrats offered a number of amendments – stalling the vote until after 3 a.m. One amendment related to scientific evidence that disputes the claim that fetuses feel pain at 20 weeks.

Veronica Zaragovia for KUT News

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. 

Todd Wiseman / Jennifer Whitney for Texas Tribune

After abruptly ending hours of public testimony that went into the wee hours of Friday morning, the House State Affairs Committee reconvened on Friday and quietly approved House Bill 60, its companion, Senate Bill 5 — omnibus abortion restriction legislation — and a standalone measure to ban abortion at 20 weeks gestation, House Bill 16.

With the special session coming to an end on Tuesday, opponents of the measures say the decision by Chairman Byron Cook, R-Corsicana, to end to the hearing near 4 a.m. — before hundreds of reproductive rights advocates could testify — may open the door to kill the legislation. 

twitter.com/grrlforfashion

Hundreds of people who had signed up to testify at a Texas House Committee hearing on abortion restrictions yesterday didn’t get to speak. Committee Chairman Byron Cook closed testimony after 3 a.m. Friday.

The House Committee on State Affairs was considering legislation that would require abortion facilities to meet the same standards as ambulatory surgical centers and ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy. The committee didn't vote on the bills.

Lizzie Chen for KUT News

Texas Senators passed a bill late last night 20-10 that would allow abortions only in surgical facilities and further restrict abortion-inducing medications.

Republican senators insisted the bill was passed to protect women’s health, but Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst tweeted this morning, “We fought to pass SB-5 thru the Senate last night and this is why,” linking to a map from an abortion-rights group showing clinic locations that says "if SB5 passes, it would essentially ban abortion statewide."

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

The Texas Senate voted, about 30 minutes before midnight, to pass an abortion bill, Senate Bill 5, with a vote of 20 to 10.

Before debate began roughly 6 hours earlier on the Senate floor, SB 5 got a significant change.

The bill's sponsor, State Sen. Glenn Hegar, R-Katy, filed a substitute version, removing the provision that would prohibit abortion after 20 weeks of gestation.

That may be to give other provisions a better chance of passing the Legislature.

Veronica Zaragovia for KUT News

After lengthy public testimony on Thursday, not much debate took place today in a Texas Senate committee.

The Senate Health and Human Services Committee approved four bills to tighten abortion regulations. Texas State Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas, one of the committee members, says most Senate Democrats won’t vote for the abortion-related bills now up for debate, but he’s confident they’ll pass the Senate.

Filipa Rodrigues, KUT News

People on both sides of the abortion debate are gearing up for a crucial hearing Thursday at the Texas Capitol. The Senate Health and Human Services committee will hear testimony on four bills that would likely make it harder to get an abortion in Texas, after Governor Perry on Tuesday added the issue to the special legislative session. 

Bob Daemmrich, Texas Tribune

Gov. Rick Perry is again expanding the agenda of the ongoing special session, and this time he has added a issue that is sure to spark partisan warfare.

Perry on Tuesday added “legislation relating to the regulation of abortion procedures, providers and facilities.” Perry also added the issue of life sentences for 17-year olds who commit serious crimes, a big issue for prosecutors but less likely to trigger divisive debate.

Texas Tribune

The battle over funding the Women’s Health Program was one of the most contentious fights in the 2011 Texas legislative session. The program provided family planning and healthcare services for low-income women who, if they became pregnant, would qualify for Medicaid.

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