Supporters of the restrictions insist that they will improve the health care women receive by placing more stringent conditions on abortions. Laubenberg told the House on Tuesday that her bill would ensure that women get high-quality treatment while protecting “babies” after 20 weeks of gestation.
“What we’re talking about today truly is about the health and safety of a woman who would undergo an abortion, but also, I want to point out, we are talking about an unborn child,” she said.
Federal courts have ruled that states can regulate abortions but not to the extent to make them impossible to obtain. That hasn’t stopped Republican-led legislatures in Texas and several other states from passing laws in recent years that test the legal limits.
Opponents of the Texas restrictions say they would effectively ban abortion in much of the nation’s second most-populous state by causing the closure of 37 of its 42 abortion clinics.
Houston Rep. Sarah Davis, the only Republican opposed to the law, warned that the bill as written is unconstitutional and she offered an amendment to make it less stringent.
“I believe the bill as drafted will be a de facto ban on abortion,” she said. “No one wants to see abortions, it’s a terrible way to end a pregnancy, but it is a constitutionally protected right.”
They also say the Texas restrictions and those passed by other states conflict with the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which established that a woman has the right to get an abortion until her fetus could viably survive outside of the womb, which is generally at 22 to 24 weeks of the pregnancy.
It’s unclear if the Texas restrictions could survive a court challenge. Federal courts have suspended aspects of the bill passed by other states. On Monday, a federal judge blocked enforcement of a Wisconsin abortion law requiring admitting privileges.
The Texas Medical Association, the Texas Hospital Association and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology oppose the bill, calling it unnecessary.
The Texas Department of Public Safety has more than doubled the number of troopers at the Capitol due to the rallies and marathon hearings, said Sen. Kevin Eltife, a Tyler Republican who oversees the Senate Administration Committee. He declined to reveal the exact number of troopers or how much the boost in security cost.
Lawmakers told the DPS they wanted plenty of troopers on the ground no matter the expense, he added.