This article was originally published by the Daily Texas and is reposted here with permission.
Moments after the Texas Senate passed abortion legislation in a special second session and sent a bill to Governor Perry's desk, undaunted Democratic Senators and opponents of the abortion legislation, including a strong contingent of students, rallied on the South steps of the Texas Capitol, enthusiastically screaming and chanting the name of Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth.
"Tonight, we've lost the battle," Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, said to the crowd. "But we will not lose this war."
Abortion legislation passed the Texas Senate in a 19-11 vote that was almost along party lines. Sen. Eddie Lucio, D-Brownsville, was the only Democrat to vote in support of the bill. The bill would ban abortion after 20 weeks, increase the standard of safety at abortion clinics statewide and place additional regulation over abortion-inducing drugs. The second special session was called after Davis successfully filibustered identical abortion legislation in the first special session.
Supporters of the bill claimed it would make women's health care safer. Another repeated concern supporters of the legislation raised was research that claims the fetus can feel pain at 20 weeks. However, opponents of the legislation claimed legislation would make abortion much more difficult to obtain in Texas, as it would likely close all but five abortion clinics in the state. Opponents also challenged the science behind the claim that the fetus can feel pain at 20 weeks.
The Senate passed the bill after a nearly 10-hour debate that included 20 amendments. Every amendment was tabled. Some only had a few moments of discussions. Amendments including changes that would make an exception to the 20-week rule in the case of rape or incest and create state appropriations to cover the increased standard of safety. Some amendments struck parts of the bill out entirely.
Immediately following passage of the bill, Texas Gov. Rick Perry issued a statement.
"Today, the Texas Legislature took its final step in our historic effort to protect life," Perry said in his statement. "This legislation builds on the strong and unwavering commitment we have made to defend life and protect women's health care."
But, at a rally that started during the ongoing debate and continued following the vote, Texas Democrats said they were not daunted and pro-choice student organizations vowed to redouble their efforts to ensure that Texas womens' legal reproductive rights are protected.
Cecile Richards, the President of Planned Parenthood and the daughter of former Democratic Texas Gov. Ann Richards, spoke to supporters at a rally downtown and led a march up Lavaca Street to the Capitol. Numerous student groups were out in enthusiastic support and student organizers say that the legislation will only help re-energize their ranks.