The Texas House of Representatives passed the “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act” today, which prohibits late-term abortions and puts additional restrictions on abortion clinics. The bill, which was stalled by Democrats in the House, is scheduled to be voted on in the Senate tomorrow morning.
The act prohibits abortions after 20 weeks, when babies are able to feel pain. It also requires that abortions be performed in surgical centers, and for abortion doctors to have admitting privileges in local hospitals. Supporters of the bill say that these restrictions are meant to raise health care standards for women.
According to opponents of the bill, more than 85% of the 42 abortion clinics in Texas would need to either close or be rebuilt because they don’t meet standards mandated in the bill. They argue that women who may not be able to access a nearby center might risk their health attempting to do an abortion on their own.
Conservatives in the House had flyers with Psalm 139:13-14 written on them, which reads, “For You formed my inward parts; You knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are Your works; my soul knows it very well.”
Gov. Rick Perry, who is expected to announce a decision on his political future by July 1, had added abortion to the special session to clear the way for legislation that he said would crack down on substandard abortion providers.
"We have an obligation to protect unborn children, and to hold those who peddle these abortions to standards that would minimize the death, disease and pain they cause," Perry said in expanding the special session, which he originally called to deal with redistricting.
The Senate must pass the act before Republican Governor Rick Perry can sign it into law, and the special legislative session ends on Tuesday night at 11:59PM.
The abortion measure is by far the most polarizing issue confronting lawmakers as they head toward adjournment on Tuesday. Also awaiting final action in the four-item special session are bills on transportation, criminal justice and redistricting.