If Arizona wasn't already getting you all riled up, now Texas is making things even more infuriating. Sunday night, hundreds of protesters crowded into the Texas capitol in an effort to stop the passage of Senate Bill 5. SB5 essentially piled all of the bills that didn't pass during Texas' normal session into one huge anti-abortion agenda. The bill is a whole bundle of abortion restrictions that will result in the closure of almost all of Texas' abortion clinics, leaving about 5 remaining in the entire, big-ass state. 37 out of 42 abortion clinics will close due to lack of funds to upgrade to the new standards and rules made by SB5. Most importantly, the bill bans abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy. And any abortions performed before that time require strict regulations from both the patient and the clinic itself.
SB5 received preliminary approval thanks to Republican Governor Rick Perry. Perry required a last-minute vote on a bunch of different bills against abortion, including SB5.
Unfortunately, after nine hours of heated debate and deliberation, the bill was passed with the Republican majority early Monday morning. In a highly unorthodox move, Republicans cut off the debate at 4am in order to force a vote.
Maybe one reason this all happened was because of the ignorance of the southwestern state's reps. Maybe it's because Texas is not quite sure what rape kits are. When debating the issue, GOP representative Jodie Laubenberg objected to the exemption of rape victims for abortions because "rape kits" make that unnecessary. Laubenberg literally said, "In the emergency room they have what's called rape kits where a woman can get cleaned out.The woman had five months to make that decision, at this point we are looking at a baby that is very far along in its development."
Did you know that there are 20,000 untested rape kits in Texas alone? Maybe idiots like Laubenberg have something to do with it.
If we take a look at the bill itself, we see that it's even more heinous and ridiculous than you might have imagined. SB5 claims, "An unborn child is capable of experiencing pain by not later than 20 weeks after fertilization." However, we can see from multiple medical studies that this is not necessarily true. According to the Journal of American Medicine, "Evidence regarding the capacity for fetal pain is limited, but indicates that fetal perception of pain is unlikely before the third trimester [24 weeks]." ALSO, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have found that "The fetus cannot feel pain before 24 weeks because the connections in the fetal brain are not fully formed."
The good news is that SB5 still needs final approval from the House before progressing any further. It then has to go through a Senate vote before heading to close tonight. I'm trying to stay positive about the whole thing by reminding myself that the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the Texas Medical Association, and the Texas Hospital Association all oppose SB5. The three medical groups have written to state lawmakers asking that they vote against the bill.
Photos via Salon and Think Progress