AUSTIN (CBSDFW.COM) – There were fireworks at the special legislative session in Austin early Friday morning. Lawmakers were listening to testimony about a controversial bill on new abortion regulations. But things got a little bit out of control.
The legislation calls for major changes to abortion clinics across Texas. It would limit how, when and where women could get abortions, and close 38 of the state’s 42 abortion clinics. Backers have argued that it is an effort to bring those clinics up to a higher standard of patient care. Hundreds of abortion rights activists packed into the Capitol building to voice their opinions about House Bill 60, and the debate continued for hours — until 2:00 a.m. Friday morning.
But it was about 1:00 a.m. when the Republican chairman of the House committee, Rep. Byron Cook of Corsicana, called to halt the testimony. He said that speakers — more than 300 people, most of which were women — would not be permitted to testify against the bill anymore because their arguments had become too repetitive.
Those speakers roared in disapproval, and troopers from the Texas Department of Public Safety were called upon to control the eruption of chaos. Cook and other Republicans left the room guarded by authorities.
The session closed early Friday morning without a final decision. But the mostly Republican committee is expected to pass the bill. Supporters did acknowledge that they hope to see a reduction in the number of abortions in Texas once the new rules have been passed.
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