Tag Archives: 20 weeks

Texas Republicans vow to pass extreme anti-choice bill in next two weeks

Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst promised Saturday that a bill toughening abortion restrictions would not be derailed again after screaming protesters this week drowned out state senators and ran out the clock on a vote.

In a new special session that starts July 1, lawmakers will take up the anti-abortion bill again after failing to pass it by midnight Tuesday. Political rivals have questioned Dewhurst’s leadership in the Senate and blamed him for the bill’s collapse _ a chaotic scene broadcast over the Internet.

Dewhurst said Saturday after speaking at the National Right to Life Convention that next time, he’ll move to have protesters thrown out if they become disorderly. He said he had tried to get them out Tuesday, though outnumbered troopers in the Capitol were not seen removing most protesters until the early hours of Wednesday.

Believe me,” Dewhurst told reporters. “I have spent most of my time between about 4 a.m. on Wednesday morning and through yesterday making sure that when I give the order … to clear the gallery, it gets done.”

The bill would place new restrictions on abortion clinics that would shutter nearly all of them and ban the procedure after the 20th week of pregnancy.

In his speech, Dewhurst ripped the crowds opposing a vote as driven by “hatred” and “mob rule.” He called on anti-abortion activists to fill hearing rooms and galleries during the next session as their opponents have done, and use social media to broadcast their support using the hashtag “(hash)stand4life.”

As for State Sen. Wendy Davis, whose 11-hour filibuster delayed the vote on the session’s final day and put her in the national spotlight, Dewhurst said, “No human being can talk for two weeks. This bill is going to pass.”

He told reporters he would move quickly on the bill to keep it out of “filibuster range.”

Gov. Rick Perry’s move to add abortion regulations well into the first special session limited the time senators had to act on it, Dewhurst said.

Dewhurst also backed down from comments published Friday on the conservative website Hot Air, in which he said he’d heard reporters in the Capitol were inciting protesters. He told Hot Air he would “take action” against any reporters who were driving the crowd.

On Saturday, he said he respected reporters and that “the case is closed.”

Dewhurst has been lieutenant governor since 2002, and he is running for re-election next year. But a year after he was soundly beaten in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate by Ted Cruz, Dewhurst faces rivals who used Tuesday’s episode to question his ability.

Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson said in a letter that Dewhurst “has lost his grip on the reins of the Senate.” And state Sen. Dan Patrick, who has also joined the race, said the Senate needs new leadership.

Asked about his opponents, Dewhurst said, “I know it’s harder to stay on top than get on top, and I’m going to make sure this state keeps moving forward.”

Dewhurst was flanked Saturday by two women from groups that oppose abortion: Texans For Life Coalition.

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Perry wants Texas to ban abortion after 20 weeks

Gov. Rick Perry threw his support this week behind legislation that would ban abortion in Texas after 20 weeks, the point at which he says a fetus can feel pain.

The Legislature, which will reconvene Jan. 8 for a 140-day session that occurs every two years, also will consider a bill that would require physicians who perform abortions to have an agreement with a nearby hospital, allowing them to admit a patient in case of an emergency, Perry said.

Perry said he would like “to make abortion at any stage a thing of the past,” but since that isn’t possible under federal law, the Legislature has an “obligation to end that kind of cruelty” when an unborn child can feel pain.

NARAL Pro-Choice Texas called the proposed legislation – which has not yet been submitted – “a cruel attempt by anti-choice extremists to curb access to care for women in the most desperate of circumstances.”

“The reality is that while most women welcome pregnancy and can look forward to a safe childbirth, for some, pregnancy can be dangerous,” the group said in a statement.

The proposed bill, however, should have widespread support in Texas’ largely Republican Legislature, which passed several laws in its 2011 session that made it more difficult to get an abortion, including a law that requires women to have a sonogram before going ahead with the procedure and putting in place a 24-hour waiting period between the time she sees a doctor and has the abortion.

Forty-one states already have laws banning abortions after 20 weeks, unless the woman’s health is in danger. Texas’ law would include a similar exception.

“We cannot and we will not sit idly by as we put our unborn through the agony” of ending their lives, Perry told a crowd of anti-abortion activists in Houston, where he announced his support for the bills.

Backed by the crowd’s occasional “Amens” and other praise, Perry vowed lawmakers would make every day of the 140-day session count when it comes to protecting life.

The legislation that would require physicians to have an agreement to admit patients to a hospital within 30 miles of their facility is designed to ensure abortion clinics are held to the same standard as all other medical centers in the state, Perry said. 

Appeals court hears arguments over Arizona abortion ban

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on Nov. 5 heard arguments in a challenge to Arizona’s law criminalizing most abortions starting at 20 weeks of pregnancy.

The ACLU calls the measure the most extreme ban in the country, with the narrowest exception for medical emergencies.

“This law endangers women by preventing them from receiving safe, legal medical care,” said Talcott Camp, deputy director of the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. “Politicians have no place interfering in a woman’s right to make this very serious and personal decision with the help of her family and her doctor.”

U.S. District Judge James Teilborg on July 30 refused to block the ban, ruling that it doesn’t impose a substantial obstacle to being able to have abortions because women still have time to make decisions.

Teilborg said the ban is only a regulation, not a flat prohibition, but opponents contend it’s unconstitutional because some women couldn’t have abortions before viability. That’s when a fetus can survive outside the womb, generally at about 23-24 weeks of pregnancy.

Supporters justify the ban by arguing that fetuses can feel pain as early as 20 weeks of pregnancy and that women face more health risks from later abortions.

Critics dispute both contentions.

Other points of contention about the ban include whether it would impose hardships on women with non-emergency health problems and fetal abnormalities that aren’t discovered until after the ban takes hold.

The ban was part of a broader package of abortion legislation enacted last spring by Arizona’s Republican-led legislature.

Besides Arizona, other states with versions of 20-week bans are Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, North Carolina and Oklahoma. Most were enacted in the past several years.

Arizona’s is the first to face a court test.