A reported 800 people turned out in Texas yesterday for the legislature's debate on anti-abortion bills that could close 37 of the 42 women’s clinics in the state. The House debate lasted 15 hours, and the vote happened around 3:25 this morning.
With Republicans in firm control of the chamber and united behind the bill, the outcome was not really in doubt. But as we have seen inVirginia, Wisconsin and Ohio -- to name a few -- the minority Democrats managed to get the bill's Republican supporters on record about their explicit belief that government has the right to control women's private medical needs and their understanding about what, in practice, that means.
Thus the Texas bill's sponsor, Republican Representative Jodie Laubenberg, found herself making this argument last night about why she opposed adding an exception for women who have been raped (apologies for the quality of the video, which is after the jump):
[I]n hospital emergency rooms, we have funded what’s called rape kits that will help the woman, basically clean her out. And then hopefully that will alleviate that.”
She was then interrupted by Democratic Representative Dawnna Dukes, who wanted to hear that part again, please:
Representative Laubenberg, you said these ladies would be able to acquire an abortion at one of the emergency rooms?
And so Laubenberg said it again, only more so:
In the emergency room they have what's called rape kits that the woman, she’ll get cleaned out, basically like a D&C, and emergency contraception, where they can also do the morning-after pill.
Now Laubenberg's "seeming confusion" about the kits used to collect forensic evidence will outlive this week in Texas legislative history, as will the issue of whether the courts will allow the state this level of decision-making about individual women's health. After another couple of hours delay, the Texas House gave final approval to the bill just after 10 A.M. local time. It now goes to the Senate, where Democrats say they will try to filibuster it until the clock runs out on the special session at midnight on Tuesday.
Adding: As you can see in the Texas Tribune video below, Democratic lawmakers thanked the protesters for delaying the bill this long. "You bought us 12 more hours in a very limited time," says Representative Jessica Farrar, our guest Friday. "It's conceivable that there could be a filibuster now, because of what you did."
Second addition: Texas Senate Republicans may use the absence of a Democratic senator -- for her father's funeral -- to suspend the rules requiring a 24-hour wait and vote today.
After the jump, the video we've got (while we're looking for better). For now, the video of Representative Laubenberg talking about rape kits is the best we're going to get, so I moved it to the top.
Thanks, Marina Bingham, for forwarding the picture from the Texas Capital. We love getting pics, etc., through our Facebook page or here.