Protestors battle over abortion bill in Austin - Dallas News |

Protestors battle over abortion bill in Austin

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AUSTIN, Texas -

Dueling demonstrations for the renewed debate on abortion took place at the Texas Capitol. Anti-abortion activists gathered outside the Capitol steps.

The speakers included pastors and current and former politicians.

"Anyone who opposes this bill, whether he or she realizes it, is a tool of Satan being used by Satan to accomplish Satan's purpose of death," said First Baptist Dallas Pastor Robert Jeffress.

"There is a baby Holocaust taking place where doctors and nurses are being paid to take the lives of innocent, unborn children," said anti-abortion activist Michelle Duggar, a mother to 19 children.

"Thank you for being here at ground zero for the fight for life in the state of Texas," said Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott.

Inside however, 1,700 speakers signed up to testify at a Senate hearing.

There were parents, grandparents, women who'd had abortions and men affected by them. Each had an opinion on Senate Bill 1.

It would ban abortions after 20 weeks and impose restrictions that advocates say would lead to the closure of most Texas abortion providers.

Fort Worth resident Alexis Lohse drove to Austin to speak against it. "I think there's gonna be repercussions of this bill that Texas isn't going to favor. I think women are going to become more desperate in seeking out reproductive services perhaps in other ways that aren't legal and aren't safe," said Lohse.

Dallas mother Melissa Medina testified many Latina women have already had unsafe abortions at poorly-regulated clinics. That's why she supports the proposed bill.

"By making the minimum standards of care for abortion facilities equivalent to that of ambulatory surgery centers, Senate Bill 1 would effectively set in place reasonable safeguards for Texas women that are well overdue," said Medina.

At times, the testimony took an unorthodox turn.

"If my vagina was a gun, you would stand for its rights, you would ride on buses and fight all the fights," said Katie Hyme who opposes Senate Bill 1.

State Senator and Doctor Bob Duell held up baby shoes as a symbol of unborn children.

In return, an abortions rights activist rebuffed that gesture. She took off her own flip-flops to support a woman's right to choose.

Two weeks ago, State Senator Wendy Davis of Fort Worth helped prevent the original bill from passing after an 11-hour filibuster.

That brought abortion survivors, advocates and opponents to the hearing room for this special session.

"I believe that if a bill like SB1 had been in place when I had my abortion, I would have received better care," said Summer Johnson in support of Senate Bill 1.

The senators can listen to as many as the 1,700 speakers as they want. They said they would avoid taking breaks because they want to listen to as many people as possible. Senators do have the choice to cut them off at any time.

Senators will eventually vote on this bill. It will then be sent to the full Senate for a vote. It has to pass both the House and Senate to become law and both can make amendments.

Legislators have up to 30 days in this Special Session, costing taxpayers $1.3 million dollars. Gov. Rick Perry has the choice to call yet another Special Session if he's not happy with the outcome.

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