The result was not in doubt, but today’s bill-signing ceremony on Austin was nevertheless disappointing for proponents of reproductive rights.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry has signed sweeping new abortion restrictions that sparked weeks of protests at the state Capitol into law.
Perry signed the legislation at a ceremony Thursday morning. The bill will require abortion clinic doctors to have hospital admitting privileges, restrict abortions to surgical centers, dictate when abortion-inducing drugs can be taken and ban abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy.
During prepared remarks, Perry spoke about the bill’s intent to “support life.”
“In signing House Bill 2 today, we celebrate and further cement the foundation on which the culture of life in Texas is built,” Perry said.
The talking point is more compelling if we overlook the women who’ll be forced to put their health in jeopardy as a result of the legislation (and if we ignore the hundreds of Americans executed by Texas’ government in recent years).
Note, in terms of the effects of the measure, new regulations are in place, at least for now, that will close all but five of the state’s 42 clinics where reproductive services are provided.
And while state Democrats and progressive activists couldn’t overcome Republican majorities at the state Capitol, they still hope to prevail. Attention will now turn to the courts, where opponents of the new state law are cautiously optimistic.
“The next battle is going to be a court challenge. Immediately. Without question,” Democratic state Sen. Royce West told the Huffington Post. “As soon as it’s signed by the governor, it’s going to be challenged.”
Jennifer Bendery’s report added:
Democrats have long been arguing that the bill isn’t constitutional. The legislation has four main pieces: It bans abortions at 20 weeks, it requires physicians who perform abortions to have hospital admitting privileges within 30 miles of the abortion clinic, it requires physicians to administer the abortion-inducing drug RU-486 in person (rather than allowing women to take the pill themselves at home), and it requires all abortions – including those induced by a drug – to be performed in ambulatory surgical centers.
The bill was written with a severability clause, meaning that if Democrats challenge one of its four core provisions in court, the other three will still take effect without their own legal challenges.
As for state Sen. Wendy Davis (D), whose high-profile filibuster temporarily derailed the Republican crusade, her remarks from the weekend continue to ring true: “The fight for the future of Texas is just beginning.” Soon after the vote in the legislature, Davis used a bullhorn to tell a large crowd of activists in front of the Capitol building, “Let’s make sure tonight is not an ending point. It’s a beginning point as we work to take this state back.”