A summer calm seemed to settle over the Capitol complex Wednesday afternoon. However, a few hours earlier down in the underground extension it was a much different scene. Pro Life and Pro Choice supporters faced off.
The chanting and singing went well into the midnight hour. As spontaneous rallies sprang up members of the House State Affairs Committee counted down the minutes as those for and against a controversial abortion bill testified.
"All women deserve equal access, all of us," said a Pro Choice supporter during the hearing Tuesday night.
Earlier an official with a national coalition for life urged committee members not to be swayed by what she considered to be questionable testimony.
"This war on babies is being waged with an arsenal of scare tactics and misstatements," said the Pro Life supporter.
HB2 would ban abortions after five months as well as increase standards for abortion clinics and the doctors that work at them.
"I think it's wrong, what we are doing, I think we are pushing things through," said committee member State. Rep. Sylvester Turner as the hearing was coming to a close.
However, the words from the Houston Democrat were brushed aside and HB2 was approved on an 8 to 3 vote. Committee Chairman Byron Cook, (R) Corsicana, thanked the several hundred people who testified, and the other thousand who signed up but did not get to speak before the midnight deadline.
"The committee on State Affairs stands adjourned subject to the call of the chair," declared Cook as he closed the hearing.
Focus now shifts to the House Chamber. The bill is expected to come up for debate next week either on Tuesday or Wednesday. Once on the floor,
Another quick vote moving the legislation to the Senate is expected to be the game plan for the GOP leadership.
"I think it's healthy to have this discussion," said Heather Busby with Pro Choice Texas.
Jonathan Saenz, with Texas Values, is also happy the debate is on.
"I think that we'll continue to see more and more voices join this issue," said Saenz.
Both Pro Life and Pro Choice advocates claim they are working for the majority of Texas women. Both also believe what started as an in state family feud has become something much bigger.
"I think it is reasonable to expect you'll see voices from within the state of Texas get louder and voices from outside of Texas, more national voices join the fight particularly on the side of life," said Saenz.
Busby recognizes the odds are against them in this current fight, but she has noticed the Texas Pro Life message may be spurring discussions in other state capitols.
"I hope that is spreads across the nation to other states like Wisconsin, Ohio, NC today and more and more people speak up and say we've had enough, enough of these restrictions," said Busby.
However, as the floor debates get underway tempers may also start to run hot again. The angry shouts and curses from the Pro Choice crowd, after the midnight committee vote, may be an indication of what's still to come.
A Pro Choice group today started circulating a petition to have several statewide public hearings when the abortion bill is moved to a senate committee. There is no indication the Republican leadership is willing to even consider that possibility.
However, a courtroom hearing is not out of the question if and when the bill becomes law. A lawsuit challenging HB2 will most likely happen.