We’ve been talking an awful lot about the Texas legislature lately — and with good reason. But just in case you haven’t been keeping up with the news about the southern state’s recent controversial measures against abortion access, here’s a condensed recap to catch you up to speed:
June 24: The Texas State House votes to pass a ban on abortions after 20 weeks and implement strict regulations for abortion clinics that would effectively close all but five of the state’s 42 clinics.
June 25: Democratic Senator Wendy Davis stages a 13-hour filibuster in attempt to shut down the bill known as SB5.
June 26, 12:03 a.m.: After an otherwise successful filibuster from Texas democrats, the Texas GOP ignores the bill’s midnight deadline and continues to vote on it.
June 26, 1:00 a.m.: Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst acknowledges that voting occurred after the deadline and SB5 is declared dead.
June 27 (also known as not even 24 hours later): Gov. Rick Perry calls a second special session to give the bill another go.
July 1: The second special session opens discussion on the bill in its reiteration, HB2.
July 2: After eight hours of testimony for and against HB2, the Texas House approves the bill in an 8-3 vote.
July 13: The Texas Senate reviews HB2 and — after chaotically confiscating menstrual products from women in the gallery — approves the bill 19-11.
July 18: Rick Perry signs HB2 into law. Abortion is now illegal after 20 weeks in the state of Texas and 37 of the state’s clinics are on the verge of elimination.
Now that the Texas GOP has won in this ongoing fight to restrict its women’s reproductive options, you would think that Texas anti-choicers would take a minute to soak up their perceived victory. But as it turns out, that just isn’t the case for Texas.
Instead, last Thursday — the same day that Perry signed the bill into law — three Texas Republicans filed a new proposal to up the conservative ante even further. Under this current measure, labeled HB59, abortion in Texas would be made illegal after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which is around six weeks into pregnancy, often before a woman even realizes that she is pregnant.
If this sounds familiar, that’s because it is. Earlier this year, North Dakota managed to ban abortion at six weeks, though the law is now facing a challenge in court.
Other states have proposed similar measures to support the notion that life begins when there’s a heartbeat. In 2011, Ohio tried to pass a fetal heartbeat detection law, but the measure failed as many Ohio republicans even found the stipulations to be too extreme. Huffington Post suggests that Texas republicans are also aware of how drastic such a bill’s demands are, reporting,
[T]he heartbeat bill was originally intended to be part of House Bill 2, but Republicans decided including the provision would jeopardize its chances of passage.
Texas republicans are certainly quick on the draw to keep abortion access limited, but pro-choice advocates are equally raring to go. Ms. Magazine started a hashtag in solidarity with Texas women to both poke fun at HB59’s absurdity and raise awareness about what will unfortunately be in store for the feminist army.
Join in the conversation at #ThingsThatTakeLongerThan6Weeks and keep an eye out for any more anti-choice legislation that Texas might throw into the mix before the second special session officially ends on July 31.
Written by Marinda Valenti
Follow her on Twitter!