Texas Abortion Bill Passes House Panel Along Party Lines

Democrats and Republicans sparred over far-reaching legislation to restrict abortions in Texas as a GOP-dominated House committee approved the bill early Wednesday and sent it to the full chamber to take up early next week.
July 3, 2013
 

Democrats and Republicans sparred over far-reaching legislation to restrict abortions in Texas as a GOP-dominated House committee approved the bill early Wednesday and sent it to the full chamber to take up early next week.

After hearing testimony from some of the 2,300 who had signed up to testify on the bill, the House State Affairs Committee approved the measure 8-3, with two absences. It was the first public hearing on the abortion bill in the current special session, which began Monday and was called after a Democratic filibuster killed an identical measure during another special session in June.

Earlier, Rep. Jodie Laubenberg, R-Parker, author of the legislation, was peppered with questions by several Democrats as she explained the bill to start the hearing.

Asked whether the new restrictions would limit access to abortion, Laubenberg repeated over and over that her intent was “to protect the health and safety of women” who obtain abortions.

Rep. Sylvester Turner, D-Houston, cited predictions that the number of abortion clinics in the state would be reduced from 42 to five if the most sweeping provision in the bill took effect — requiring all abortion clinics to upgrade to surgical center standards.

“Would women’s safety be enhanced if 37 clinics go away?” Turner asked. Laubenberg would not answer the question directly and said she would not support a Turner amendment to provide state funding to upgrade the clinics.

Republicans on the panel defended the measure, asserting that abortion clinics and doctors performing abortions will be able to comply with the new requirements.

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