Texas Democrats try to defang sweeping antiabortion bill

The measure may have the votes to pass, leaving state Democrats working to lessen the bill's blunt impact

By Katie McDonough
Published July 9, 2013 4:49PM (EDT)
  (AP/Eric Gay)
(AP/Eric Gay)

While the ultimate fate of Texas' sweeping antiabortion bill remains up in the air, supporters of measure say they have the votes to move it forward. As a safeguard against some of the most draconian provisions of an overall draconian bill, Democrats are attempting to use this second special session to lessen the blunt impact of the proposed restrictions with a series of amendments.

As the Austin Chronicle notes, a measure filed by state Rep. Donna Howard, D-Austin, could eliminate Texas' 24-hour waiting period for women seeking abortions, a change that could lessen the burden on women traveling long distances to do so:

As currently written, HB 2 is likely to result in the closure of all but five of the state's 42 abortion-providing facilities, because of its onerous requirement that every clinic transform by September 2014 into an expensive-to-build ambulatory surgical center. If that happens, the distances between the remaining providers would become extreme – in testimony last week, for example, a UT researcher noted that women in El Paso would have to travel more than 1,000 miles round-trip for services should the bill pass. Eliminating the 24-hour waiting period would also eliminate the need for multiple long trips or for women to have to find additional resources, and time, to stay overnight near a clinic.

But, as Becca Aaronson at the Texas Tribute reports, the bill's sponsor, state Rep. Jodie Laubenberg, R-Parker, has refused (again) to accept any amendments to the proposed measure during the early hours of Tuesday's House debate. (Unrelated but related: Laudenberg, if you will remember, thinks that rape kits "clean out" women who become pregnant as the result of a rape.)

As Aaronson notes in her live coverage of the proceedings, this could be a long day.

Lawmakers began debating the bill Tuesday morning, and are expected to vote as early as Tuesday afternoon.

Katie McDonough

Katie McDonough is Salon's politics writer, focusing on gender, sexuality and reproductive justice. Follow her on Twitter @kmcdonovgh or email her at kmcdonough@salon.com.

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Abortion Abortion Restrictions Abortion Rights Reproductive Rights Texas Trap Laws Wendy Davis