orangeleader.com (Orange, Texas)

Local News

July 1, 2013

Texas lawmakers are back, and so is abortion fight

AUSTIN — Round two of Texas' fierce ideological battle over abortion limits was set to begin Monday, less than a week after a Democratic filibuster and hundreds of raucous protesters threw the end of the first special session into chaos.

The Legislature's Republican majority has vowed to pass wide-ranging abortion restrictions quickly and easily this time, even as opponents mobilize for more protests.

"The world has seen images of pro-abortion activists screaming, cheering," Republican Gov. Rick Perry said. "Going forward, we have to match their intensity but do it with grace and civility."

More than 100 state police, many carrying helmets and truncheons, walked through the Capitol building Monday morning as abortion-rights protesters began arriving. Protesters, wearing orange T-shirts, were navigating newly erected crowd control ropes strung to create paths to the House and Senate chambers.

Lawmakers finished their regular session on May 27, but Perry called them back immediately for 30 more days to approve, among other things, the tight new limits on abortion.

On the extra session's last day, however, Democratic Sen. Wendy Davis of Fort Worth was on her feet for more than 12 hours — speaking most of that time — as Democrats used a filibuster to help kill the sweeping abortion bill.

As the midnight deadline loomed, Republicans used parliamentary technicalities to silence her, but hundreds of protesters in the public gallery and surrounding Capitol corridors cheered so loudly that senators on the floor weren't able to hear, and couldn't pass the bill before the clock ran out.

The scene was chaotic enough that Sen. Donna Campbell, a New Braunfels Republican, called for the gallery to be cleared. With lawmakers now heading back, she said, "I believe more presence by law enforcement will help keep disruptive behavior from thwarting the democratic process."

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