Texas House nears vote on proposed abortion restrictions
By Corrie MacLaggan
AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - Thousands of supporters and opponents of abortion rights converged on the Texas Capitol on Monday for hours of protests as the state House of Representatives prepares to debate the proposed abortion restrictions on Tuesday.
The state House could vote on the bill as early as Tuesday, two weeks after Democratic state Senator Wendy Davis filibustered for 11 hours to prevent passage of the legislation. Davis's tactic forced Republicans to start over in the state legislature their effort to pass a ban on most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy and toughen regulations for abortion clinics.
On Monday evening blue-clad supporters of the legislation - including former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and Michelle Duggar of the reality TV show "19 Kids and Counting" - crowded outside the statehouse chanting, "Pass the bill!" and praying.
"Our battle, ladies and gentlemen, is not between Republicans and Democrats," Robert Jeffress, senior pastor of the First Baptist Church in Dallas, told the crowd. "The battle is between light and darkness, between good and evil, between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan, and it is a battle we are going to win."
As the anti-abortion demonstration wrapped up, abortion-rights advocates dressed in orange marched past the governor's mansion to the state Capitol chanting "Whose choice? Our choice!"
Meanwhile, the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services saw more than 3,800 people testify or register their position on the bill, according to committee Chairwoman Jane Nelson.
The Senate panel was not expected to vote on the measure Monday evening.
The proposed ban on most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy - a version of which has passed in 12 states - is based on controversial medical research that suggests a fetus starts to feel pain at that point. Continued...