Texas House passes abortion bill; Senate next stop

Texas House passes abortion bill; Senate next stop

The Texas House Wednesday sent a controversial abortion Bill to the Senate. The morning vote was a critical step in what's been a volatile process that has put the state in the national spot light.

The final vote came after one last attempt to amend the abortion Bill. A brief disturbance from the House gallery didn't stop the process. HB 2 passed on a vote of 96 to 49.

One Pro-Choice supporter was carried out of the Chamber. Three others had their hands restrained, while another left on his own.

Supporters of the abortion Bill, like Rep. Jason Villalba, realize the vote will not end this fight.

I think science is ultimately going to solve this problem for us," said the Dallas Republican.

The large security force at the Capitol is expected to remain in place. An angry protest once again spilled into the hallways.

Houston Democrat Gene Wu predicts the floor vote will eventually be undone by a judicial review - upholding current abortion case law.

"Every court in the nation has basically said this is the law of the land, stop," said Rep. Wu.

HB2:

  •  Bans abortions after 20 weeks.
  • requires clinics to meet ambulatory/ outpatient surgery standards.
  •  makes abortion doctors have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals.
  • prescriptions for the abortion pill would involve two separate visits to a clinic.

There is a very real possibility that at least one section of HB2 will survive a court challenge; the part requiring abortion clinics to upgrade standards.

The Whole Women's Health Clinic of Austin does not meet the proposed rules. Hallways are too narrow and the procedure rooms are too small. Estimates for a total rebuild, according to managers, exceed a million dollars. To reduce the cost, owner, Amy Hagstrom Miller, is considering the option of relocating to a commercial retail site. Other Texas abortion providers are also trying to find a way comply with the tougher rules and stay in business. If they are able to do that, Republican Susan King believes an interesting question will be raised for HB2 supporters.

"Then what? Was the goal for health a safety was the goal to stop the clinics, so if they comply, which is they have the money some said they have, you could, so then what? I don't know," said King.

That unknown is why those on both side of this controversial issue seem to be digging in for a much longer fight. As for the current battle, a floor debate in the Senate could begin as early as this Friday.

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