Controversial abortion bill goes to governor; legal fight likely

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by JOBIN PANICKER and JASON WHEELER

Bio | Email | Follow: @jobinpnews

WFAA

Posted on July 13, 2013 at 6:09 PM

Updated Saturday, Jul 13 at 10:12 PM

Texas has turned into debate central on the issue of abortion.

It follows the vote at the State Capitol late Friday night where the Senate — controlled by Republicans — passed a bill that establishes new rules for abortion clinics.

Gov. Rick Perry mentioned at a new event in West, Texas that he would sign the legislation, but did not say when that will happen.

"I think that people who truly believe in protecting innocent life, they are celebrating today, because they know it will have my signature on it," Perry said.

It was an emotionally-driven Friday night and early Saturday morning in Austin after the final vote.

Advocates on both sides dressed in blue (pro-life) and orange (pro-choice) made sure to make their voices heard in the Capitol rotunda, and some even inside the chambers.

Troopers were forced to drag out unruly protesters. In all, 12 arrests were made, and all were pro-choice protesters.

The face of the opposition, State Sen. Wendy Davis (D-Fort Worth), gave a brief message to the hundreds of pro-choice supporters who had waited all night and into the morning.

"Let's make sure tonight is not an ending point," she said. "It's a beginning point for our future."

Davis, who led the charge against the legislation, vows that a lawsuit will be filed as soon as Gov. Perry signs the measures into law.

The new rules would ban most abortions after 20 weeks. A representative with Planned Parenthood said the measure would take effect 90 days after the session ends.

The same goes for a new rule that would establish strict requirements for women choosing to induce an abortion using a pill.

The bill also creates new abortion facility requirements. Planned Parenthood tells us those requirements are so stringent, they would force all but possibly one clinic in Dallas to close. That part of the bill would take effect in September, 2014.

Planned Parenthood's national president, Cecile Richards, says, "What's happened here is going to fast-forward change in Texas in the long run," said Planned Parenthood national president Cecile Richards. "Unfortunately, a lot of women will suffer in the process."

Planned Parenthood says it's still deciding whether to challenge these new rules. But it seems Democrats already have their minds made up on a legal challenge to the bill in a Saturday afternoon tweet by Sen. Davis:

"The law passed last night will undoubtedly be challenged in court. It’s unconstitutional and bad for our families."

"If Democrats want to challenge that... if they want to undo the protection... we'll see what happens in the judicial process," pledged State Sen. Kelly Hancock (R-North Richland Hills).

E-mail jpanicker@wfaa.com and jwheeler@wfaa.com

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