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House Passes Abortion Bill At 3 A.M. Second Reading

Ryan Poppe | Texas Public Radio
TPR News

House Democrats stalled a vote on a set of abortion bills as long as they could this past weekend, forcing House Republicans to sit through dozens of amendments that ranged from changing the language of the bill to tactics that would have killed the legislation.

At just after 3 a.m. on Saturday, the House took a second reading vote on all abortion measures, which passed.

Rep. Gene Wu, D-Austin, cast doubt on the evidence supporting the claim that a 20-week-old fetus can feel pain while speaking for an amendment that would have removed the term "substantial."

"It can be concluded that the fetus cannot experience pain in any sense prior to this gestation period," Wu said.

Others like Rep. Donna Howard, D-Austin, took exception with a mandates that would force abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at a hospital no more than 30 miles away.

"Thousands of physicians operate clinics and provide services in those clinics but do not have hospital admitting privileges," Howard said. "No other outpatient procedure requires a physician to have active admitting privileges in a hospital within specific distance. This is opposed by the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and also by the Texas ACOG."

Lawmakers attempted to attach scientific evidence to the bills, changing language by using expert medical opinion from doctors at the Texas Medical Association as a resource against the bill. Others like Rep. Senfronia Thompson, D-Houston, said the bill violates women’s rights.

"We are not living under Sharia Law, we are living under Democracy, the United of States of America law and the Texas law and women ought to have a right not to be violated by these violent acts of conduct like this," she said.

During her speech, Thompson hung a symbolic coat hanger on the microphone of the podium, telling the bill's sponsor, Rep. Jodie Laubenberg, R-Murphy, that this was the option the Legislature was leaving Texas women.

Both amendments to the bill were killed by the overwhelming majority.

Ryan started his radio career in 2002 working for Austin’s News Radio KLBJ-AM as a show producer for the station's organic gardening shows. This slowly evolved into a role as the morning show producer and later as the group’s executive producer.