Texas Gov. Rick Perry has signed sweeping new abortion restrictions that sparked weeks of protests at the state Capitol into law.
Perry signed the legislation at a ceremony Thursday morning. The bill will require abortion clinic doctors to have hospital admitting privileges, restrict abortions to surgical centers, dictate when abortion-inducing drugs can be taken and ban abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy.
During prepared remarks, Perry spoke about the bill's intent to "support life."
"In signing House Bill 2 today, we celebrate and further cement the foundation on which the culture of life in Texas is built," Perry said.
"It is our responsibility and duty to give voice to the unborn, the individuals whose very survival is at stake. This bill lives up to that responsibility," Perry continued.
Only five of Texas' 42 abortion clinics currently meet the new requirements.
Evangelicals including First Baptist Dallas' Robert Jeffress were present for the signing of the bill while opponents of the restrictions shouted "shame" from outside the chamber.
The signing signifed the end of the prolonged battle over abortion restrictions in the state. Early in the 83rd legislative session, House committees were already discussing restrictions on abortions after 20 weeks and abortion-inducing drugs. But the battle reached a flashpoint when Sen. Wendy Davis of Fort Worth staged a filibuster in front of a mass of protestors on the last day of a special legislative session.
The Texas Legislature's Republican majority passed the restrictions last week after Perry called another session for that reason.
After today's signing, Sen. Wendy Davis issued the following statement:
"When Governor Perry signed the bill, he signaled a clear break with Texas families. Governor Perry and other state leaders have now taken sides and chosen narrow partisan special interests over mothers, daughters, sisters and every Texan who puts the health of their family, the well-being of their neighbors, and the future of Texas ahead of politics and personal ambitions."
Perry has long been in support of limiting abortions, but developed a nuanced stance on the issue during his run in the GOP presidental race. During a 2011 campaign stop, Perry said he opposes abortion rights in cases of rape and incest, but would allow the legal procedure if the pregnancy threatened the mother's life.
The new legislative restrictions on abortion come at a time when other states have passed similar bills. Arkansas and several other states have recently passed bans after 20 weeks, but also have faced legal challenges.
Legal analysts expect the new Texas restrictions will face a lawsuit.
Planned Parenthood response to the signing of the bill focused on the beginning of a court battle.
“The fight over this law will move to the courts, while the bigger fight for women’s access to health care in Texas gains steam. People are enraged by this law, and it has created a whole new generation of activists who are in it for the long run.”
NBC 5's Omar Villafranca is at the signing. Find his Tweets from the event below.
First published July 18 2013, 11:12 AM