Hundreds of Texas Women Put Up an Epic, All-Night Fight Against Proposed Abortion Restrictions
The hearing of the Texas House State Affairs Committee meeting kicked off at 1 p.m. Thursday with a mere two items on the agenda: a pair of bills by Representative Jodie Laubenberg, a Republican from Parker with the modest aim of ending legal abortion in the Texas, or coming as close to that as possible.
The first bill was identical to a measure that passed the Senate on Wednesday. It would effectively shutter all but a small handful of abortion clinics by burying providers beneath a mountain of red tape and requirements that are not medically recommended. The other measure was a so-called fetal pain bill, which would put Texas among the first states to ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, rather than the current 24, a provision that was struck from the final version of the Senate bill.
Both seemed poised to sail through the ultra-conservative House until the pro-choice crowd showed up. Hundreds of women, urged to show up at the Capitol by Planned Parenthood, Texas NARAL and the Texas Democratic Party, among others, gave three-minute stemwinders in the public comment period, urging lawmakers to quit meddling with their uteri.
Here's a small sampling of the testimony, courtesy of RH Reality Check's Andrea Grimes' Twitter feed:
Woman frm Mesquite testifying: "How is it the state won't regulate firearms or fertilizer plants but will regulate female fertility?" #HB60— Andrea Grimes (@andreagrimes) June 20, 2013
Survivor of poverty, incest, rape testifies against the bill: "If you are against abortion, then don't have one." #HB60— Andrea Grimes (@andreagrimes) June 20, 2013
Black abortion provider: "This is a witch hunt. Call it what you want to. This is here to put us out of business. This is an atrocity" #HB60— Andrea Grimes (@andreagrimes) June 21, 2013
You get the idea. Testimony started Thursday afternoon, continued into the evening, and finally ended shortly after 3 a.m.. At some point, #HB60 started trending worldwide on Twitter.
Committee chairman Byron Cook, a Corsicana Republican, tried to shut down testimony around midnight, calling it "repetitive." The predictable swell of outrage that followed prompted Cook to reconsider, and he reopened the hearing.
The meeting adjourned with the State Affairs Committee taking no action on either bill. It's a clear victory for the legislation's opponents, but only a minor one. Neither the Texas legislature nor Rick Perry are about to let the bills die so easily.