Texas lawmakers debate closing nearly all the state’s abortion clinics

By Stephen C. Webster
Sunday, June 23, 2013 19:41 EDT
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The Texas House of Representatives spent Sunday night debating debating legislation that will close all but five of the state’s abortion clinics and prohibit abortions beyond 20 weeks of pregnancy.

Sunday’s debate is expected to progress into the night, following days of protests kicked off by the Senate voting 20-10 in favor of the bill.

Outside the chamber, more than 600 protesters flooded the capitol, according to The Associated Press.

Texas Democrats, who are vastly in the minority, tried to delay the proceedings by constantly injecting parliamentary inquiries and points of privilege, delaying the legislation from coming up for a vote.

As a result, the matter might not be settled until Tuesday night when the special session finally comes to a close.

At one point during the highly contentious debate, Rep. Senfronia Thompson (D), pictured, held up a coat hanger and began yelling at her Republican colleagues, castigating them for the lack of an exception for cases of rape and incest.

“We do not live under Sharia law!” she boomed, waiving the hanger as a stark reminder of what happens when young, desperate women attempt to abort a pregnancy on their own. “To be raped, it’s a violent act,” Thompson continued. “It’s something she has to live with for the rest of her life.”

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Jodie Laubenberg (R), defended the lack of a rape or incest exception, saying that at 20 weeks of pregnancy, “we are looking at a baby.”

“Let me say that this does not prohibit an abortion for any reason, including rape and incest, up until five months,” she said. “That’s over half the term of the pregnancy.”

“Do you want to return back to the coat hanger, or do you want to give them the option to terminate their pregnancy because they have been raped?” Thompson countered.

This live video is from the Texas House, stream courtesy of The Texas Tribune. It was not clear after 10:15 p.m. EST how late the debate might run. Update: The bill was approved after Republicans voted in the dead of the night to cut off debate. The Texas House did not adjourn until 6 a.m. EST.

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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