Texas Senate approves 20-week abortion ban

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After weeks of high drama and national attention on the Texas Capitol, a bill restricting abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy is heading to the desk of Republican Governor Rick Perry.

The bill, which passed the Texas House earlier this week, passed the Senate early Saturday morning in a 19-11 vote.

Perry is expected to sign the legislation.

In addition to a ban on abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy — a regulation 12 other states have passed, Reuters reports — the bill requires doctors to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals and requires clinics meet ambulatory surgical center standards.

The abortion fight in Texas gained national attention in recent weeks in large part to an 11-hour filibuster by Democratic state Sen. Wendy Davis and stunts by protestors.

Indeed, protestors on both sides of the debate descended on the Capitol as lawmakers geared up for the vote, resulting in the Texas Department of Public Safety stepping up security and searching bags.

What they found may have churned more than a few stomachs.

“During these inspections, DPS officers have thus far discovered one jar suspected to contain urine, 18 jars suspected to contain feces, and three bottles suspected to contain paint. All of these items – as well as significant quantities of feminine hygiene products, glitter and confetti possessed by individuals – were required to be discarded; otherwise those individuals were denied entry into the gallery,” the Department described in a statement Friday.

While pro-abortion activists were unable to prevent passage of the bill, Davis told protestors after the vote that the fight would continue.

“Tonight is not an ending point, but a starting point as we work to take this state back,” Davis told protestors after the vote, The Washington Post reports.

Perry, who brought lawmkers back in a special session to pass the legislation this month after Davis successfully blocked the bill by running out the clock last session, praised lawmakers for passing the bill.

“Today the Texas Legislature took its final step in our historic effort to protect life,” Perry said in a statement. “This legislation builds on the strong and unwavering commitment we have made to defend life and protect women’s health. I am proud of our lawmakers, and citizens who tirelessly defended our smallest and most vulnerable Texans and future Texans.”

Pro-life activists joined the governor in praise.

“Today, Texas joins other states around the country in passing this life-saving legislation that protects pain-capable unborn children from the excruciating pain of being torn apart in their mothers’ wombs,” Carol Tobias, president of the National Right to Life Committee, said in a statement. “We commend Governor Perry, pro-life members of the Texas legislature, and the staff and volunteers of our affiliate, Texas Right to Life, for their tireless efforts to see this bill enacted into law.”

Pro-abortion activists condemned Perry and his “anti-choice colleagues,” pointing out that the new regulations could negatively impact the majority of abortion clinics in the state and make it more difficult for women to get a safe abortion.

“This morning’s vote will be remembered as a temporary setback for Texas women, but this vote, and its process, will also seal the fate of the anti-choice politicians who silenced the voices of voters to impose their extreme agenda,” NARAL Pro-Choice America president Ilyse Hogue said in a statement.

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