‘Eyes of the Country’ on Texas Abortion-Bill Battle, Davis Says

Texas Senate Republicans “will probably be a little bit smarter” about passing a restrictive abortion bill in the special session that begins tomorrow, State Senator Wendy Davis said.

Davis, a Democrat, last week blocked passage of an anti-abortion bill championed by Texas Republicans including Governor Rick Perry. She spoke for more than 10 hours on the Senate floor June 25, a filibuster that drew thousands of abortion-rights supporters, sent the Austin capitol into chaos and catapulted her into the national spotlight.

The maneuver prevented lawmakers from voting on the bill before a midnight deadline that marked the end of the legislative session, effectively killing the measure. Perry has called the state legislature into special session tomorrow to give lawmakers another chance to vote. In the Senate, where a simple majority is required to approve the legislation, Republicans hold 19 of 31 seats.

“They mismanaged the clock terribly last time and they also ran roughshod over a lot of our Senate rules and traditions to try to ram this bill through,” Davis said on the CBS’s “Face the Nation.” As the Senate prepares to take up the bill again, “the eyes of Texas, the eyes of the country are watching; they are going to be held accountable for the decisions they make in this process,” she said.

In an interview with ABC’s “This Week,” Davis called the abortion bill a “big government intrusion” that contradicts Perry’s support for limited government.

“I’m going to fight with every fiber I have to keep it from passing,” she said in an interview that aired today.

Abortion Rights Rally

Abortion rights activists planned a rally on the steps of the Texas capitol tomorrow.

“The decision to force yet another special session on legislation to virtually ban abortion is an affront to the thousands of Texans who turned out in droves to oppose these efforts,” said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund, an abortion rights group.

The bill would prevent women from terminating pregnancies after 20 weeks and impose new rules on clinics that provide abortions. Abortion rights supporters said if the bill becomes law, most of the state’s clinics would be forced to close.

Public opinion on the issue is complicated. A June 20 poll by the University of Texas and the Texas Tribune newspaper found that more than 60 percent of the state’s citizens support banning abortions after 20 weeks, while 49 percent support abortion rights in general.

Since 2010, Republican-led legislatures across the U.S. have sought to enact similar abortion limits. Ten states have passed laws banning the procedure after 20 weeks. Some of those laws face legal challenges and haven’t gone into effect.

Teenage Mother

Davis, 50, was a teenager when she gave birth to her first child. She was the first person in her family to earn a bachelor’s degree, eventually graduating from Harvard Law School in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Perry, in a June 27 speech to the National Right to Life conference, brought up Davis’ teenage pregnancy and said she should consider the plight of children in similar circumstances.

“It is just unfortunate that she hasn’t learned from her own example that every life must be given a chance to realize its full potential and that every life matters,” he said.

Davis responded on the CBS show.

“That was a terribly personal thing to say,” she said. “It showed disregard for the fact that we all, we each own our own personal history. We make choices and have the opportunity to take chances that present themselves to us.”

To contact the reporters on this story: Alex Wayne in Washington at awayne3@bloomberg.net; Lorraine Woellert in Washington at lwoellert@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Ann Hughey at ahughey@bloomberg.net

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