Texas Senate passes new abortion restrictions

Published on NewsOK Modified: July 13, 2013 at 12:36 am •  Published: July 13, 2013
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Sen. Royce West, a Dallas Democrat, asked why Hegar was pushing restrictions that federal courts in other states had suspended as possibly unconstitutional.

"There will be a lawsuit. I promise you," West said, raising his right hand as if taking an oath.

The bill mirrors restrictions passed in Mississippi, Ohio, Oklahoma, Alabama, Kansas, Wisconsin and Arizona. In North Carolina, lawmakers are considering a measure that would allow state health officials to apply standards for ambulatory surgical centers to abortion clinics.

Passing the law in Texas would be a major victory for anti-abortion activists in the nation's second most-populous state. A lawsuit originating in Texas would also likely win a sympathetic hearing at the conservative 5th Circuit Court of Appeals on its way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

But Democrats see in the protests an opportunity that could help them break a 20-year statewide losing streak. They believe Republicans have overreached in trying to appease their base and alienated suburban women, a constituency that helped President Barack Obama win re-election.

"In the long run, all they have done is built a committed group of people across this state who are outraged about the treatment of women and the lengths to which this Legislature will go to take women's health care away," Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards told The Associated Press in an interview Friday.

Sen. John Whitmire, a Houston Democrat, said during the debate that it was clear the bill was part of national conservative agenda attempting to ban abortion and infringe on women's rights one state at a time. He pressed Hegar on why the Texas Medical Association, Texas Hospital Association and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology opposed the bill.

He asked Hegar how he could ignore these experts.

"There are differences in the medical profession," Hegar insisted, rejecting the criticism. "I don't believe this legislation will majorly impede the doctor-patient relationship."

Sen. Bob Deuell, a Greenville Republican and a doctor, defended the bill, saying abortion clinics "had not maintained the proper standard of care."

___

Associated Press writers Will Weissert and Jim Vertuno contributed to this report. Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at http://twitter.com/cltomlinson



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