A marathon speech by a Texas Democrat temporarily frustrated a Republican drive for new state abortion restrictions, but political sources predicted on Wednesday that anti-abortion Governor Rick Perry would quickly revive the proposal.
Senator Wendy Davis, a single mother by the age of 19 who now is a rising star of the Democratic party, drew national attention when she spoke for more than 10 hours to block a measure that would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
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Her filibuster of the Republican supermajority in the Texas legislature was hailed by women's groups and abortion rights advocates, and streamed live on some national media websites.
Republicans managed to stop her about two hours ahead of the midnight end to the special legislative session citing parliamentary procedures, but they were unable to complete voting on the abortion bill before the deadline.
"I pledge to Texas one thing: this fight is far from over," David Dewhurst, the anti-abortion Republican Lieutenant Governor who presides over the Senate, posted on Twitter Wednesday.
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Texas Republican political strategist Matt Mackowiak predicted that Perry will call lawmakers back for another special session to pass the abortion bill.
"An abortion bill passed both houses. The votes are there. There's no question the votes are there," he said.
The abortion restrictions passed the House earlier in the week and a version of the proposal that did not include the ban after 20 weeks of pregnancy passed the Senate.
If the measure ultimately passes, Texas would be the 13th state to impose a ban on abortions after 20 weeks and by far the most populous. In addition, the legislation would set strict health standards for abortion clinics and restrict the use of drugs to end pregnancy.
Republican backers said the regulation of abortion clinics would protect women's health and that the ban on late-term abortions would protect fetuses, based on disputed research that suggests fetuses feel pain by 20 weeks of development.
Opponents said it would force nearly all Texas abortion clinics to close or be rebuilt.
"We know this isn't the end of the fight to protect women's access to health care in Texas." said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund.
Davis whittled away chunks of time by reading testimony and messages from women and others decrying the legislation, reciting previously suggested changes to the bill and tapping into her own past as a single mother at 19.
She said the bill would have choked off her own access to a local Planned Parenthood clinic.
"I was a poor, uninsured woman, whose only care was provided through that facility. It was my medical home," said Davis, 50, several hours into her speech.
The U.S. Supreme Court legalized abortion nationwide in 1973, but conservative states have enacted laws in recent years that seek to place restrictions on the procedure, especially on abortions performed late in pregnancy.
Twelve states have passed 20-week bans, including two states where the bans take effect later this year, according to the Center for Reproductive Rights. Courts have blocked the bans in three of the 12 states - Arizona, Georgia and Idaho.
Earlier this month, the Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill banning abortions 20 weeks after fertilization. The measure is extremely unlikely to become law because Democrats control the U.S. Senate and the White House.
The Texas proposal would allow exemptions for abortions to save a woman's life, and in cases of severe fetal abnormalities.
"In Texas, we value all life, and we've worked to cultivate a culture that supports the birth of every child," Perry said.
The abortion debate simmers elsewhere in the United States.
North Dakota's only abortion clinic filed a federal challenge on Tuesday to a new state law, the most restrictive in the country, that would ban procedures to end pregnancy once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, as early as six weeks.
A Philadelphia jury last month convicted abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell of murdering three babies during abortions at a clinic in a high-profile case that focused national attention on late term abortions.
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