(Orange, Texas)

Local News

June 24, 2013

Texas Republicans on verge of passing abortion law


AUSTIN, Texas —

Normally the Senate doesn't get a bill until 24 hours after House passage, which would set the Senate debate for Tuesday morning, effectively requiring a filibuster to last 13 ½ hours.

Republicans could try to suspend the rules to force an earlier vote — and longer filibuster. If all senators were present, that effort likely would fall one vote short. However, Democratic Sen. Leticia Van de Putte was attending a viewing Monday and funeral Tuesday for her late father, and it wasn't clear if Republican leaders would try to suspend the rules in her absence.

The first requirement of the bill is for all abortions to take place in surgical centers, facilities designed to cope with major surgeries that could lead to life-threatening complications. The majority of abortions are not surgical procedures, and 37 of the state's 42 abortion clinics don't meet that new standard, so many would need to relocate and spend millions of dollars to reach it.

Those five remaining clinics are in Dallas, Austin, San Antonio and two in Houston. A woman living along the Mexico border or in West Texas would have to drive hundreds of miles to obtain an abortion if the law passes.

Women who may currently take abortion-inducing pills at home would also be required to take those medications in front of the doctor by making visits to the surgical center under the bill.

Abortion doctors also would need to obtain admitting privileges within 30 miles of the clinic under the measure. The lone remaining abortion clinic in Mississippi is currently suing to block this law because no hospitals in the state will grant privileges to an abortion doctor for religious reasons or to avoid political repercussions.

State Sen. Glenn Hegar, R-Katy, insists the measures are intended to protect women's health by guaranteeing the best possible treatment and forcing abortion clinics to improve their facilities. But after the bill passed the Senate the first time, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst gloated on Twitter about how the bill would shut down clinics.

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