Texas House Republicans used their majority to shut down discussion and give preliminary approval early this morning to an omnibus Senate bill that would ban abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy and close all but five of the abortion clinics in the state. There are no exceptions for victims of rape and incest because the bill's genius sponsor thinks rape kits are abortions-in-a-box that murder defenseless fetuses. If the bill passes, that's pretty much it for safe, legal abortion in Texas.
SB 5 is the ultimate value pack of abortion restrictions: it combines several measures that didn't advance during Texas' regular session, because the vast majority of Texans don't want to leave the state in order to get an abortion or treat women like equals who know what's best for their bodies. Governor Rick Perry added abortion to the special session in the final two weeks, after lawmakers had already taken up redistricting, because he loves embryos more than people.
Democrats tried to draw out the debate last week, in part via a "citizen filibuster" during which nearly 800 Texans swarmed the Capitol to show support and provide testimony until the early morning hours. Republicans stayed silent until this morning, when they passed a motion to stop accepting amendments and forced the vote in order to do as much damage by the session's deadline at midnight on Tuesday. House members still have to give final approval (which they obviously will with salivating glee), and then there's a 24 hour period until the Senate will consider it. (Democrats in the Senate plan to try and filibuster the bill. Thank Goddess.)
Bill sponsor Rep. Jody Laubenberg only spent two hours answering questions after she got in trouble for denying Democratic amendments, according to the AP. Probably (definitely) because she's an ignorant fool who shouldn't be able to teach elementary-level sex ed, much less champion legislation:
When Rep. Senfronia Thompson, D-Houston, called for an exemption for women who were victims of rape and incest, [Laubenberg] explained why she felt it was unnecessary.
“In the emergency room they have what’s called rape kits where a woman can get cleaned out,” she said, comparing the procedure to an abortion. “The woman had five months to make that decision, at this point we are looking at a baby that is very far along in its development.”
So if SB 5 goes through, women won't even be able to get an abortion via rape kit! (That's obviously a joke. A bad one. But we need all the humor we can get to make it through days like these.)
Facts clearly aren't of much interest or importance to House Republicans, who showed up prepared for the day with flyers on their desks that read “Psalm 139:13-14,” which reads in part, “You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”
Very proud of many of my Republican members as many are displaying signs on their desks saying Psalm 139:13-14
— Dan Flynn (@Dan_Flynn) June 24, 2013
“At five months, we are talking about a human being, unless you think it’s still a clump of mass … and we have to protect that babies rights,” Laubenberg said in her closing argument. “Too often the back alley clinic today is the abortion clinic because of lax standards.”
Except the standards she's referring to are completely unnecessary. They won't prevent another horrific Gosnell situation from taking place — in fact, they'll likely ensure that "back alley clinics" will continue to treat women who have nowhere else to go.
In case you were wondering: 80% of Texans oppose this special session abortion bill bullshit, according to a recent bipartisan poll which also found that "63% of Texas voters think the state has enough abortion restrictions, and 71% say the legislature should be focusing on the economy and jobs." Only 34% say they trust the Governor and the legislature to make decisions about women’s health. Imagine that.
[Image via Cecile Richard's Twitter]