As reported by Becca Aaronson in the Texas Tribune, the Texas Senate passed the omnibus abortion bill late last night on a 20-10 vote.
After hours of emotional debate, the Senate late on Tuesday evening approved omnibus legislation to tighten abortion restrictions.
“My objective first and foremost, second and third, is to raise the standard of care,” said state Sen. Glenn Hegar, R-Katy, the author of Senate Bill 5, which passed 20-10 and now heads to the House for approval.
SB 5 includes three abortion regulation measures that failed to reach the floor of either chamber during the regular legislative session: a requirement that abortions be performed in ambulatory surgical centers, which state Sen. Bob Deuell, R-Greenville, has filed as SB 24 in the special session; a requirement that doctors who perform abortions have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the abortion facility; and a requirement that if doctors administer the abortion inducing drug, RU-486, they do so in person, which state Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, has proposed separately in SB 18 in the special session.
One Democrat, Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr., D-Brownsville, joined the 19 Republicans in the Senate.
Predictably, the Democrats resort to their failed argument that the Republicans have a “war on women”.
Many Texans are “afraid, genuinely afraid, of how this Legislature treats women,” state Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, said before the final vote on SB 5. He said the bill would create obstacles to safe, legal abortion services and “creates a back room process to negate women’s constitutional rights over their own bodies.”
He said that each of the proposals included in SB 5 failed to pass during the regular session because the Senate did not have enough votes to consider the legislation under the two-thirds rule — which Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst chose not to apply in the special session.
“It’s wrong to try to resurrect them now through a loophole,” Watson said. “If this is going to be our new process — using the special session to ram through any partisan red meat that fails in the regular session — it makes a mockery of the traditions that so many on this floor brag about.”
No, Sen. Watson, this is not a “loophole” – it is the rules. I was surprised when Sen. Watson didn’t make any of the “Best” legislator lists because the truth is, he had a remarkable session as Democratic caucus leader. He was so effective at holding the majority hostage that very few social conservative bills passed. But sometimes, you can be too effective. He should have worked with the Republicans instead of simply blocking everything – the two-thirds rule in the regular session is designed to block bad bills, not to obstruct everything that the majority tries to do.
But what is sickening is that the Democrats truly prefer that women having abortions put their own health at risk. Each one of the provisions passed in this omnibus bill protect the health of women. That is a sad, sad statement on the current status of the Democratic party and gives Republicans a little bit of hope even as demographics shift in Texas.
Well done, Lt. Gov. Dewhurst and Sen. Hegar. Well done.