Just two minutes before midnight, the Texas Senate passed the controversial anti-abortion legislation, now known as House Bill 2, that has roiled crowds outside and inside the statehouse for weeks. The bill now goes to Gov. Rick Perry to be signed into law. That will likely lead to a protracted court battle over whether the measure creates an “undue burden” on women seeking abortions.
While passage of HB 2 was expected, it didn’t come easily. It took an all-night debate in which the GOP majority rejected 20 Democratic amendments and in which several protestors were ejected from gallery after outbursts. Before the final vote, a dozen senators gave impassioned speeches for and against the bill, laying bare the raw emotions of the abortion debate.
Where to now, indeed.
The day that this bill is signed by the Governor, expect there to be a lawsuit filed in the United States District Court. Given that the plaintiffs will most likely seek a temporary restraining order, it will be filed in the Western District, based in San Antonio, because that court has jurisdiction over Austin.
Noah's got much more at TexPate, but expect the decision made at this level to be appealed to the 5th Circuit. Conservatives like their chances there, but other states' bills that are similar in nature to Texas' have already been struck down. And the showdown will be with the Supremes at some point in the future, who will surely get a chance to take on (or take down) Roe v. Wade. Or maybe they will pass on that. Update: Edward Garris at Burnt Orange expands on this.
In the meantime, there must be a political cost extracted from the legislators who brought this bill into law. From Rick Perry to David Dewhurst and Dan Patrick, all the way down to the five Democrats in the House.
Symbolism we got plenty of. There's been protests, rallies, and motivation aplenty. Now we need some concrete organizing and political action. The tactics must adjust if Texas women and those who support their freedom can claim an ultimate victory, regardless of what judgment any court renders.
In a similarly revolting development from last night, Department of Public Safety officers confiscated from gallery entrants various feminine hygiene products, claiming protestors would throw them at the senators below. The irony of allowing those carrying concealed handguns to pass in unfettered was lost on them.
The Tampon Troopers also claimed they confiscated -- oops, "discovered and disposed of" -- several jars of "suspected" urine and feces, but unlike the tampons, minipads, and even diabetic medicines they purloined, there were no pictures of a single jar of anything. Hats off to the Texas Tribune for clarifying that bit of radical conservative propaganda which put the state police into totalitarian mode.
Social media blew up again as all this business went down yesterday and into the night. But once you get past the outraged Tweets and indignant Facebook posts, the real job of making the changes in Austin that will result in different legislation starts now, and there'll be a test based on the success of those efforts in November of 2014.
If you want more like last night, then I am certain you will get it from Greg Abbott and Dan Patrick and the rest of those. If you don't, there's a lot of work to be done.