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Texas Debate on Abortion Restrictions Draws Thousands to Capitol

Monday, 01 Jul 2013 03:42 PM

Both sides of the abortion debate clashed in competing rallies at the Texas capitol as lawmakers prepared to consider restrictions that might close most of the clinics that perform the procedure.

Anti-abortion supporters ringed the second floor balcony overlooking the capitol’s atrium, singing “Amazing Grace” while, a floor below, women’s-rights advocates yelled in opposition to the limits. Many more gathered outside, with the number of those against restrictions overwhelming supporters.

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Texas lawmakers came close last week to approving abortion limits. Democratic Senator Wendy Davis, spoke against the restrictions for more than 10 hours to run out the clock on a special legislative session, drawing national attention. When Republicans forced a vote, they were prevented from meeting their midnight deadline by jeering protesters. Governor Rick Perry, a Republican, called another session of the legislature this week to reconsider the measure.

The legislation would ban abortions at 20 weeks of pregnancy and require that they be performed in ambulatory surgical centers by doctors with admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles (50 kilometers). Most clinics would have to alter facilities to meet the requirements, which abortion-rights advocates say they can’t afford. Doctors at other clinics may struggle to win privileges.

Lawmakers Meet

The Texas House and Senate, both dominated by Republicans, were scheduled to convene at 2 p.m. local time. House Speaker Joe Straus, a Republican, plans to send the abortion issue to the House State Affairs committee for an initial meeting tomorrow, said Jason Embry, a Straus spokesman.

Embry said it wasn’t certain when lawmakers would vote.

“We will pass the bill,” Perry said today on Dallas radio station WBAP. “These abortion mills make hundreds of millions of dollars a year,” he said, adding that if any clinics close “it becomes very apparent they are only in this for the money.”

Karen Davis, 63, who opposes abortion, drove about 200 miles from Clear Lake, Texas to attend the rally after a call for action from the Texas Conference of Catholic Bishops.

“The bishops called us to come and pray,” said Davis, a full-time volunteer. “We have to stand up for what we believe.”

Mary Anne Whiteley, 42, brought her daughters, ages 8 and 14, to support abortion restrictions. The Whiteleys, who live in Pflugerville, an Austin suburb, were wearing blue shirts signaling their anti-abortion stance. Abortion-rights supporters wore orange shirts.

“Abortion takes away the choice of the unborn baby,” Whiteley said.

About a dozen women from the Dallas-Fort Worth area drove to Austin to show support for Davis, said one of them, Kirsten Rundberget, an optical systems engineer. The women wore long- sleeved dresses typical of the 1910s to draw attention to abortion restrictions in place earlier in the 20th century.

“We’re still fighting the same battles of our mothers and grandmothers,” Rundberget said. “You can’t be a citizen without controlling your own body.”

Obamacare: Massive New Rules Revealed for 2013

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Both sides of the abortion debate clashed in competing rallies at the Texas capitol as lawmakers prepared to consider restrictions that might close most of the clinics that perform the procedure.Anti-abortion supporters ringed the second floor balcony overlooking the...
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Monday, 01 Jul 2013 03:42 PM
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