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Gov. Perry signs sweeping abortion restrictions

The controversial abortion bill which has been the focus of so much heated debate at the Capitol was signed into law Thursday. But the governor's signature does not mean the fight is over.

Both sides in this fight consider today to be a big moment in Texas history. And as expected both have different reasons for their opinion.

With a stroke of a pen Governor Rick Perry signed HB2 into law.  It was referred to as a legacy moment.

"No one will ever have to ask you, where were you when the babies lives were being saved...." Perry said.

The Capitol Extension, where the bill signing took place was filled with conservative lawmakers as well as evangelical church leaders like John Hagee. But Lt. Governor David Dewhurst noted not everyone was celebrating with them.

"For those who may be outside chanting don't agree with us, but  we love ya. We love ya just as much as those unborn babies." Dewhurst said.

Pro-choice supporters who gathered in the hallway were closely watched by state troopers.

As they chanted their disapproval Governor Perry was getting hugs and handshakes.

Pro-choice supporters who gathered in the hallway were closely watched by state troopers. As they chanted their disapproval - Governor Perry was getting hugs and handshakes. He also won praise from Ashley McGuire, Senior Fellow with The Catholic Association.

"Today is a great day for women and babies. Women will be safer and countless babies in Texas will be spared the pain of late-term abortions. Rick Perry is a brave man for standing up to the mob tactics of the abortion lobby and has earned the respect of pro-life women and men across the country. We hope other states as well as the federal government follow Texas' lead in standing up for women and babies."

The new law does the following:

  • Bans abortions after 5 months.
  • Requires abortion pills to be taken in a clinic on two separate occasions (currently women can take the second pill home with them.)
  • Mandates abortion doctors to have hospital admitting privileges.
  • Restricts abortions to outpatient surgical centers.

"It is our responsibility and duty to give voice to the unborn the individuals whose survival is at stake, this Bill lives up to that responsibility," said Governor Perry.

As this debate moves from the capitol, it's generally understood the next battlegrounds will involve a courtroom and the ballot box. But those in opposition do not have a lot of time. All the new requirements take effect in October except for one. Clinics - which do not meet surgery center standards - have a year to remodel- move - or close.

"We feel that the signing of this Bill is not a loss for our movement we recognize this moment as just the beginning," said Kandace Vallejo with Rise up Texas.

The Executive Director of the Texas Democratic Party, Will Hailer, also issued a statement Thursday:

"Perry's signature today is a precursor for what will come if Greg Abbott gets elected.  Women and men across Texas have been showing up by the thousands to say these attacks on women and individual rights isn't right.  This isn't a fluke.  Texans are fed up with an extreme Republican agenda and we will organize right up to Election Day 2014 to take our state back and ensure our elected officials are passing policies that are beneficial for women and working families across the state."

During the final debate in the Senate- leading Democrat, John Whitmire (D) Houston said there were some in his Party who support parts of HB 2. When it came time to vote—only one Democrat vote for it. For his support-- Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr. received special recognition Thursday during the Bill signing. He and Governor Rick Perry shared a long embrace at the beginning of the ceremony. The Brownsville Democrat is a devote Catholic and his district which runs along the southern edge of the Coastal Bend - has a strong conservative voting base.

"This is a no brainer; it should not be a party issue," said Senator Lucio.

He does not believe his vote for HB2 puts him at odds with his party affiliation.

"I will be I will continue to be a Democrat, I'll continue to fight for hungry children, I'll continue to find the resources necessary for housing, I'll continue to add more money for education, health care every category or need, it doesn't make me a liberal it just makes me, gives me the opportunity as a legislature to address those issues that people in Texas are in need of," said Lucio.

On the House side, according to the House Journal, three Democrats voted for HB2. Joe Pickett (D) El Paso, Abel Herrero (D) Robstown and Ryan Guillen (D) Rio Grande City.

State Senator Wendy Davis is also weighing in on Thursday's Bill signing. The Fort Worth Democrat issued a statement calling the new law, "a clear break with Texas families."

Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood Action Fund also issued a statement:

"The bill signed into law by Governor Perry today makes a terrible situation for women's health even worse. Already, Rick Perry and other politicians have cut more than 130,000 Texas women off from basic preventive health care, including lifesaving cancer screenings and well-woman check-ups, and this new law will severely limit access to safe and legal abortion, which will cause women to resort to desperate and dangerous measures. These relentless attacks on women's health have a devastating impact on women who already have the least access to health care. Doctors oppose this law because they know it will hurt their patients, and the public overwhelmingly opposes these attacks on women's health. In Texas alone, 80 percent of voters oppose special session passage of the bill Governor Perry signed today, which is why the governor and his allies had to break the rules and shut down the democratic process to push this through the State Legislature. The fight over this law will move to the courts, while the bigger fight for women's access to health care in Texas gains steam. People are enraged by this law, and it has created a whole new generation of activists who are in it for the long run to elect leaders who will protect women's health."

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