The Texas House voted 97-33 Monday on new anti-abortion legislation that women's rights advocates are calling unconstitutional and an assault on women's rights.
In a landslide vote Monday morning, the Texas House voted 97-33 to pass a proposal that would ban abortions past 20 weeks, require doctors to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, require clinics to upgrade their facility classifications to ambulatory surgical centers, and would close 37 of the 42 Texas clinics that perform abortions.
“It seems pretty clear that it’s unconstitutional,” said Lisa Maatz, vice president for government relations at the American Association of University Women, in an interview with MSNBC. “It’s problematic that it’s under the guise of being protective of women’s health when it will do the opposite.”
The decision came during a special session forced by Gov. Rick Perry. Texas had previously failed to advance pieces of anti-abortion legislation during the regular session. Texas Lt. Governor David Dewhurst suspended the two-thirds rule for the special session, allowing lawmakers a better chance to rush through the anti-abortion legislation.
“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,” Sen. Kirk Watson, a Democrat from Austin, said before Monday’s vote.
The House session was faced with 13.5 hours of back-and-forth talks, but a motion was passed to halt debates and get a vote in. Some 16 amendments went unheard because of the sudden stop.
But the new legislation did not come without opposition. On Friday, over 700 Texans signed up for a “people’s filibuster,” where individuals were given three minutes to speak at the Texas capital.
People came “from all over the state, lots of men, young and old, doctors, nurses, teachers, it ran the gamut of the full spectrum of the population of the state,” Heather Busby, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas told MSNBC last week. The state chapter organized the people’s filibuster “in about a day and a half.”
The Texas Medical Association, the Texas Hospital Association, and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have all written letters in opposition to the abortion rules, TIME reports.
“This bill is dangerous and deeply unpopular, and it will hurt a lot of women. We won’t go back, we won’t back down, and we won’t forget when these politicians are on the ballot,” Cecile Richards, President of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, said in a statement to MSNBC.
A bipartisan poll found that 80% of Texans oppose the special session, while 63% of Texas voters think that the state has enough abortion restrictions and 74% of voters say that private medical decisions regarding abortion should be made by “a woman, her family, and her doctor—not by politicians.”