Texas abortion showdown continues

Wednesday, July 3, 2013 - 11:06am

AUSTIN, Texas (CNN) -- The battle over Texas' attempts to change its abortion law ran well into the night at the state capitol.

Crowds of pro-choice and anti-abortion advocates flooded a House committee meeting on a bill that would impose strict new regulations on abortions in the state. Inside the hearing room Tuesday, it was quiet as people waited their turn to speak.

But outside the hearing, it was prayer circles versus drum circles. Color-coordinated groups huddled together throughout the statehouse, joined by ideology.

Middle ground was hard to come by. Each side has preconceived notions about the motives of the other side, and each side was going out of its way to prove the other's stereotypes correct. In the capitol rotunda, a group of abortion-rights activists joined hands to dance and sing in a circle, while above them anti-abortion demonstrators fell to their knees to pray.

The House State Affairs Committee gathered Tuesday afternoon with more than 1,900 people ready to share their opinions on House Bill 2. Fewer than 300 would be able to do so before the midnight deadline. Both sides were bringing in food, and the Department of Public Safety was maintaining the peace.

At the end of the night, the bill cleared the committee with an 8-3 vote.

The initial House bill failed after a day and night of drama in which state Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, talked for more than 10 hours in an attempt to run out the clock on the legislative session. But Gov. Rick Perry called a special session so the legislature could take up the measure again.

The bill would ban most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy and tighten standards on abortion clinics and the doctors who work at them. Critics said the measure would shut down most of the abortion clinics in Texas.

Tuesday's hearing was meant to take note of public testimony. Among those who testified against House Bill 2 was Stacy Wilson, counsel for the Texas Hospital Association. Democratic Rep. Sylvester Turner requested her testimony to be put into writing because he thought it was "critically important" to the bill.

"As a member of this committee, I have the right to ask for testimony to be reduced to writing. This is important," Turner said.

Testimony also was heard from those in favor of the bill.

The House is adjourned until 10 a.m. July 9, according to its website.

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