Texas abortion debate gears up for Round 2

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by TERESA WOODARD

WFAA

Posted on June 26, 2013 at 10:24 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jun 26 at 10:57 PM

DALLAS — The National Right to Life Committee's annual convention begins Thursday in Dallas with Texas Gov. Rick Perry making his first public remarks on the failure of a bill aimed at restricting the availability of abortions in the state.

Two years ago, there was no way to predict what would be transpiring in Texas now. But the National Right to Life Committee is proud of the decision made in 2011 to bring its 2013 convention to Dallas.

"When we invited the leaders of Texas to come to our convention, it was because we thought it would be nice to hear them speak," said National Right to Life Committee President Carol Tobias. "We never expected we'd be right in the middle of this big battle to protect unborn children."

Late Tuesday night and early Wednesday in Austin, Senate Bill 5 — containing some of the strictest abortion regulations in the nation — never came up for a vote.

A filibuster by Fort Worth Sen. Wendy Davis; then debate by Democrats on the floor; followed by an outburst from citizens in the gallery; ended with the midnight special session deadline passing without action on the bill.

"It was Texas politics at its best... and at its worst," said Dr. Allan Saxe, professor of political science at University of Texas at Arlington. "What I didn't like was, it was too much of a carnival... too much of a circus... given the gravity of what they were discussing."

Saxe predicted Texas Gov. Rick Perry would call a second special session, and by Wednesday afternoon the governor had done just that.

Perry will address the Right To Life Convention on Thursday, making his first public comments since the session ended.

"[Tuesday] in the state legislature in Austin was the pro-choice moment, and the Democratic party's moment," Saxe said. "[Thursday] in Dallas could be the right to life people's moments. We'll see what Gov. Perry does with it."

Tobias considers Senate Bill 5 to be a template for abortion restrictions that other states might mimic.

"Yes, the country is looking at Texas right now," she said.

Tobias and Saxe both believe the bill will eventually pass because the Senate has the votes.

Wendy Davis released a statement Wednesday promising another fight.

E-mail twoodard@wfaa.com

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