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Texas House Committee Approves Abortion Restrictions

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AUSTIN (CBS 11 NEWS) — After hours of emotional testimony that stretched late through the night, the Texas House State Affairs Committee approved controversial bills adding new restrictions on abortions, by a margin of 8-3.

Two members of the committee were absent.

Democratic State Representatives on the committee, including Helen Giddings of Dallas slammed the process and accused the Republican majority of ramming through the bills, known collectively as House Bill 2, without hearing from more than one thousand people who had signed up to speak.

One lawmaker said 90 people testified. Among them, right to life activist Lori Gallagher, who told legislators, “The great State of Texas has the right to regulate abortions after the first trimester. Is three months not enough time?” Gallagher sobbed as she told lawmakers she regretted having an abortion during a high risk pregnancy. “Even after 15 years, I continue to suffer.”

Vivian Ballard, a pro-choice activist spoke out against the measure saying, “I believe it is an unwarranted intrusion into the lives of the citizens of this state.” Ballard told lawmakers her husband’s great-great-great grandfather signed the Texas Declaration of Independence. “Unless you have a medical degree, I really don’t want to take medical advice from you.”

Kristen Garza of Carrollton told lawmakers her doctor advised having an abortion. She said that years ago, she ignored her doctor’s advice to have an abortion. Her daughter was born prematurely. “She was born at 22 weeks, they told me she couldn’t live.” Her daughter is 20 years old.

Carolyn Conner, a grandmother of two, told lawmakers she had an abortion 30 years ago, and has no regrets. “It was right for me. I’m not saying it’s right for everyone. That’s their business. But stay out of my business.”

HB 2 will now move to the Calendars Committee, then onto to the full House for a vote.

The State Senate Health and Human Services Committee will debate the measure, but a date hasn’t been set yet.

If approved by both the House and Senate, and signed by Governor Rick Perry, abortions would be banned after 20 weeks, and providers would face additional requirements including having privileges at a hospital within 30 miles.

In all, thousands of people flocked to the Capitol for the second consecutive day.

Veteran lawmakers say they’ve never seen so many people there.

Governor Perry called a second special session after the State Senate failed to pass the measure in time.

An 11-hour filibuster by Democratic State Senator Wendy Davis helped run out the clock along with a crowd in the upstairs gallery who vocally disrupted the proceedings.

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