Abortion

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.

Texas Tribune

Political powerhouse Texas Right to Life is working overtime to try to defeat a compromise measure aimed at improving state laws governing “end of life” medical decisions. But with time running out to getSenate Bill 303 passed, the fight over the legislation has shifted from political to personal.

Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

President Obama on Friday became the first sitting president to address Planned Parenthood's annual meeting, delivering a strongly worded speech defending the embattled organization.

"We shouldn't have to remind people that when it comes to women's health, no politician should get to decide what's best for you," said Obama, who was greeted by sustained applause when he took the stage.

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Update: A bill requiring abortion providers to have the ability to admit patients at a hospital within 30 miles of the clinic now moves to the Senate floor.

Supporters say the bill would ensure patients have access to care if there is a complication or emergency during or after the abortion. 

“If an abortionist is not competent to obtain hospital privileges, then he is not competent to doing abortions," said Mary Lynn Gerstenschlager with the conservative Texas Eagle Forum.

Photo courtesy www.flickr.com/msjacoby

Texas requires doctors to show a woman who chooses abortion a sonogram of the fetus and hear the heartbeat. State Rep. Jodie Laubenberg (R-Parker) wants to ban abortions altogether 20 weeks into the pregnancy and beyond.

Carol Everett of the Women’s Wellness Coalition of Texas supports the measure. She said she's witnessed a fetus move away from the operation tools.

Eric Schlegel for the Texas Tribune

State law requires Texas physicians to inform women having an abortion that the operation may increase their risk of breast cancer.

But State Rep. Sarah Davis (R-West University Place), a survivor of the disease, wants to stop the mandate through a bill she’s authored.

KUT News

Three bills related to Gov. Rick Perry are getting a vetting today.

The Texas Senate is set to hear two bills scrutinizing the use of money from the Texas Enterprise Fund. The Texas Enterprise Fund is Perry’s economic development program that gives taxpayer money to private business. Some Austin recipients include Apple and Visa.

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Good morning. After last night, Austin’s looking at decreasing rain chances as the morning goes on, lessening from as much as 50 percent to just a slight chance. Sorry, that means no more hail

Lead Story: The sponsor of a bill heard in a Texas Senate committee yesterday says the measure is about protecting the health of women who are getting abortions. But opponents say it will just make abortions harder to get, especially in rural areas.

A week after the Arkansas legislature passed the strictest measure in the country on abortion, North Dakota's legislature passed a bill that goes further and would ban abortions as soon as a heartbeat is detected.

Arkansas' bill banned abortions after 12 weeks; North Dakota's could ban them as early as six weeks into a pregnancy.

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