DALLAS –– Supporters and opponents at the State Capitol continue to clash on what's right for women and the unborn amid fierce debate over sweeping abortion legislation that's making its way through the Texas Legislature.
"I think it means a lot for women," says Rep. Jodie Laubenberg, R –– Parker, a sponsor of the abortion measure Senate Bill 5 that would shave four weeks off the current legal guidelines for abortions.
Right now, women in Texas can get an abortion until they are 24 weeks pregnant.
"The 20-week ban is truly about the pain of a five-month baby going through an abortion,” said Laubenberg.
The bill would also require all abortions to take place in surgical centers, which supporters say will gives women access to life-saving emergency care. However, most abortions do not require surgery.
"It will essentially make a woman go to a surgical center to take a pill, then return 24 to 48 hours later to take another pill,” said Dr. Meadow Good, who represents the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. "It will essentially increase costs, it doesn't make anything more safe."
Another stipulation in the bill requires doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges to hospitals within 30 miles of their location. Good said this was unfair and unnecessary.
"If you go to get a colonoscopy," points out Dr. Good, "That person is not mandated to have admitting privileges to a hospital."
If the restrictions pass, Texas would have one of the toughest abortion laws in the country. Democrats, led by Fort Worth Senator Wendy Davis, are planning a filibuster to stop the final vote.
As the Associated Press has noted, “When combined in a state 773 miles wide and 790 miles long and with 26 million people, the measures become the most stringent set of laws to impact the largest number of people in the nation.”
Texas House Democrats managed to delay the voting on the bill for 15 hours Sunday night into early Monday morning, but the Republican majority voted to suspend debate, stop pending amendments and force a vote at 3:30 a.m. House Speaker Joe Straus then adjourned and called lawmakers back for the final House vote at 6:46 a.m.
Democrats, though, stayed away until 9 a.m. denying Republicans a quorum. Four Democrats joined Republicans in supporting the bill and a single Republican from Houston opposed it.
Gov. Rick Perry says he is prepared to call a second special session should the legislation not pass the Senate before Tuesday, the last day of the session.
The Associated Press contributed to this report