The battle to ban late-term abortions after five months of pregnancy in the Lone Star State is on its way to a close as Texas lawmakers prepare to pass pro-life legislation, HB2, through the Senate. Debate over the legislation will move to the floor Friday, with final passage expected Saturday. Texas Governor Rick Perry is patiently waiting to sign the bill into law.
This time when the Texas Senate takes up tough new abortion restrictions, the chamber's top Republican is determined not to let anything — or anyone — derail a vote.
The Senate's leader, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, has scheduled a vote for Friday on the same restrictions on when, where and how women may obtain abortions in Texas that failed to become law after a Democratic filibuster and raucous protesters were able to run out the clock on an earlier special session.
But when protesters arrive at the state Capitol on Friday, dozens of extra police officers will be waiting for them, guarding the gallery and lining the hallways. For those who break the rules, the Texas Constitution gives Dewhurst the authority to jail them for up to 48 hours, no court necessary.
"We're going to have strict enforcement. If there are any demonstrations, we are going to clear the gallery," Dewhurst said Thursday. "I hope we don't get to that point but if we do, we do. This is a democracy and we will not be interrupted from doing the people's work by an unruly mob."
Every person who enters the gallery will be issued a copy of the "rules of decorum" that stipulate there can be no demonstrations or attempts to disrupt the chamber's work. Dewhurst plans to have more police on stand-by in case things get out of control.
Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis galvanized abortion-rights supporters–and even the White House–with a dramatic filibuster of a bill that would have outlawed all abortions after 20 weeks. But the latest United Technologies/National Journal Congressional Connection Poll shows that a plurality of Americans supports a ban on late abortions.
Americans favor such a bill by 48 percent to 44 percent.
Support was greatest among Republicans, 59 percent in support, but 53 percent of Americans not affiliated with either major party sided with the GOP. A majority of Democrats, 59 percent, were opposed while only 33 percent were in favor.