Almost immediately after Wendy Davis and other Texas Democrats helped filibuster SB5, a bill that criminalizes abortion at 20 weeks and aims to shut down 80 percent of statewide abortion clinics, Gov. Rick Perry called for a second special session to revisit the bill. As of midnight this morning, the revisited bill in its newest iteration HB2 has been passed in the Texas House State Affairs Committee, meaning that it will move forward through legislation.
Testimony began at 3:30PM yesterday and proceeded for eight hours with hundreds of people still waiting to testify by the time the hearing ended. Ninety percent–about 800 names–of those who showed up to speak on behalf of HB2 were turned away. More than 3,500 people showed up to register their position while more than 1,000 signed up to share their story with the House.
Throughout the hearing, there had been some repeated confusion from witnesses as well as the committee over critical details of the bill’s technicalities, such as how abortions are performed.
Most of the stories and testimonies were personal and very emotional, but some noted that these attempts to sway the vote were likely in vein; the committee seemed set on their position. Observed a live blog on the hearing,
Many of the pro-choice speakers described grueling personal experiences — rapes, spousal and partner abuse, desperately wanted children with severe abnormalities. The testimonies are difficult to listen to, yet the brave speakers sharing their most intimate stories seem to leave the Republican committee members unmoved. Again, as Chairman Cook pointed out yesterday on the State House floor, it was unlikely that any testimony could change votes on this bill.
The committee stated it would close testimony after eight hours and did so promptly to the outspoken displeasure of those who had been waiting for hours to speak. Many are concerned over the committee’s harsh opposition to the people’s voice, especially on a bill that will harm Texas women. Said State Rep. Jessica Farrar,
This isn’t the fair democratic process that we value in Texas. This is politics at its worst.
Following the hearing, the House voted, approving the bill eight to three. The bill now must go through the full House and Senate and reach a majority vote before Gov. Perry can sign it. This session is to last for 30 days.
Written by Marinda Valenti
Follow her on Twitter!
Photograph of Monday’s rally from The Obama Diary.