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Texas House Tentatively OKs Restrictive Abortion Bill

AUSTIN, Texas, (UPI) –  The Texas House of Representatives, after more than 13 hours of debate ending Monday, tentatively OKd a bill that would ban abortions after 20 weeks.

The measure requires a final vote before being returned to the Senate, which is expected to accept the 20-week ban language when it takes up the bill — and Democrats say they’re prepared to do whatever they can to prevent its passage before the special legislative session adjourns Tuesday, The Dallas Morning News reported.

Democrats stalled the legislation for hours but Republicans voted to end debate 97-33 early Monday. A final vote was scheduled for later Monday but the Morning News said the House may lack a quorum for the final vote.

Under the bill, abortion clinics would be required to meet standards of surgical centers, which Planned Parenthood estimates would close 32 facilities that couldn’t afford the upgrade that only five facilities now meet. The measure would also require that women take three doses of a medically induced abortion drug in the presence of a physician and that doctors have admitting privileges at a hospital no more than 30 miles away from the abortion facility.

The 20-week provision drew the most heated debate, the Morning News said. Republicans said it was based on evidence that a fetus past that stage of development can feel pain, which Democrats countered as questionable.

The  Morning News said Gov. Rick Perry, a Republican, likely would sign the bill if it reaches his desk.

At 2 a.m., Rep. Bryan Hughes, a Republican, brought up a motion to end the overall debate on Senate Bill 5.  About 16 amendments were left unheard.

“Anyone who has been here for the last several hours would not describe this as being rushed by any means,” Hughes said. “The people of Texas expect us to take a position on this bill, pro or con. We’re still miles before we sleep.”

Outside the chamber, Rep. Chris Turner, a Democrat, told abortion opponents, “Your being here says that the people who come to Austin who are elected officials have to be held accountable and I know you will hold people accountable in the next election. I’ve never ever seen this kind of outpouring on a Sunday afternoon, Sunday night, early Monday morning in late June.”

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