Texas governor says HB 2 builds 'culture of life’
EDITOR'S NOTE: A second story about Gov. Rick Perry's signing of HB 2 follows this story, reported by the Southern Baptist TEXAN.
AUSTIN, Texas (BP) -- Texas Gov. Rick Perry signed House Bill 2 on Thursday (July 18), protecting unborn babies after the fifth month of a pregnancy and raising standards for women's health care in the state.
"This is an important day for those who support life and for those who support the health of Texas women," Perry said. "In signing House Bill 2, we celebrate and further cement the foundation on which the culture of life in Texas is built."
As summarized by the governor’s office, the HB 2, in addition to banning abortions after the fifth month of a pregnancy, requires physicians who perform abortions to have hospital admitting privileges at a facility within 30 miles. Additionally, it mandates that only a physician may dispense or administer abortion-inducing drugs, and requires the physician to comply with all FDA guidelines for the drug. The bill also requires licensed abortion facilities to meet the same minimum safety standards as ambulatory surgical centers, beginning Sept. 1, 2014.
"New research and advanced technology give prematurely-born children a renewed chance at life, which should give us all pause as we argue the definition of viability and consider the human impact of abortion," Gov. Perry said. "Additionally, House Bill 2 ensures that anyone performing abortions in Texas is doing so in a facility that is safe, clean and prepared to deal with any emergencies that might occur - a reasonable, common sense expectation for those caring for the health and safety of Texans."
Perry called a second special legislative session to deal with the matter after opponents successfully stalled it as time expired in the first special session on June 25. The tactics brought national attention to the legislative deliberations.
HB2 passed the Texas Senate 19-11 with one Democrat voting for it as the second session ended late Friday, July 12. The Texas House easily passed the bill on July 10.
The full text of Perry’s comments in signing the bill follows:
Thank you all for being here today.
This is an important day for those who support life and for those who support the health of Texas women.
In signing House Bill 2 today, we celebrate and further cement the foundation on which the culture of life in Texas is built.
This is a bill that protects unborn babies after the fifth month of a pregnancy.
We know that not very far past that point, children can survive -- and thrive -- with appropriate care.
New research and advanced technology give prematurely-born children a renewed chance at life, and I think that should give pause to us all as we argue the definition of viability and consider the human impact of abortion.
And at five months, many studies indicate these children feel the pain of their own deaths.
It is our responsibility and duty to give voice to the unborn, the individuals whose very survival is at stake.
This bill lives up to that responsibility.
It is also our responsibility to improve the quality of care women receive, ensuring that any procedure they undergo is performed in clean, sanitary and safe conditions, by capable personnel.
We've witnessed far too many stories -- from Philadelphia to Houston and elsewhere -- about reckless doctors performing abortions in horrific conditions.
We've heard stories about women getting sick -- even dying -- after treatment at such places.
At the end of the day, House Bill 2 makes sure that anyone performing abortions in the State of Texas is doing so in a facility that meets appropriate safety guidelines, and that people there are prepared to handle any emergencies that might occur.
That is a reasonable, common sense expectation for those caring for the health and safety of Texans.
Today's signing, though, definitively builds upon our continued commitment to protecting life in the State of Texas.
Over the past 10 years we've passed laws requiring parental consent to their minor daughter's abortion, ensuring parents will be involved, ready to provide much-needed guidance and advice at the most critical of moments.
We've funded and promoted alternatives to abortion, providing counseling for women on the other options - options that won't stop their child's beating heart.
Because children deserve the respect of simple recognition before their lives are tragically cut short.
I'd like to thank everyone involved in making today's signing a possibility, including Gov. Dewhurst and Speaker Straus, the bill's authors and sponsors, and everyone who stood for life throughout this process.
Compiled by Baptist Press editor Art Toalston. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).
Bill's signing undaunted
by ongoing protests
By Bonnie Pritchett/Southern Baptist TEXAN
AUSTIN, Texas (BP) -- After weeks of loud and sometimes disruptive protests and counter protests, Texas Gov. Rick Perry signed House Bill 2 into law Thursday (July 18) restricting abortions after 20 weeks and requiring abortion providers upgrade their facilities and standards of practice.
In a ceremony that included pro-life legislators and advocates, Perry called the bill "appropriate" and said it set a "reasonable standard" of care for women while sparing the lives and suffering of unborn babies.
As the governor signed the bill, abortion rights activists continued their month-long protestations with demonstrations in the Capitol rotunda. Some chanted or held signs declaring "shame on you" while others lie on the marble floor dressed in black and feigning death. Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America and daughter of former Texas Gov. the late Ann Richards, said Thursday in a tweet, "We believe parts of this bill are unconstitutional & are working to stop it."
Undaunted, pro-life legislators gathered around Perry as he signed HB 2 into law.
Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who presided over the final senate vote July 12, called it a victory for Texas women despite characterizations to the contrary by the bill's opponents. Sen. Wendy Davis, D.-Fort Worth, who attempted to defeat similar legislation in the first special session with a filibuster, claimed the bill would severely limit Texas women's access to medical care. "By signing #HB2 today, @GovernorPerry proved he doesn't care about Texas families. Let's show him we do," Davis tweeted Thursday. A link following the post took the reader to a campaign ad promoting Davis' run for the Texas Senate.
"Don’t let anyone tell you anything different. We care about women’s health," Dewhurst said.
Throughout the debate, pro-choice activists charged the legislation would force the closure of all but five of the state's 42 abortion clinics. Under HB 2, abortion facilities must meet the same standards as ambulatory clinics and abortion doctors must acquire admitting privileges to hospitals within a 30-mile radius of the abortion clinic. Dewhurst emphasized failure to meet those standards would not force the closure of health care centers, only abortion facilities. The clinics have until Sept. 1, 2014, to meet ambulatory standards. The rest of the legislation goes into effect 91 after the close of the session, about mid-October.
The 20-week ban on abortions was championed in the regular session as the "Pre-born Pain Bill." Noting that some research indicates a fetus at five months gestation might feel the pain of an abortion motivated the drafting of the legislation.
Perry, in his remarks July 18, said neonatal care saves the lives of babies born "not far past that point."
"That should give pause to all of us as we argue the definition of 'viability' and consider the human impact on abortion," he told the audience of pro-life leaders.
Authors of the omnibus bills in the House and Senate, Rep. Jodi Laubenberg, R.-Murphy, and Sen. Glenn Hegar, R.-Katy, said they needed and appreciated the prayers and visible support of pro-life activists in the days leading up the bill's passage. Laubenberg called them "the new blue" for the colored-coded delineation of the demonstrators -- pro-life wore blue; pro-choice wore orange.
She thanked them for showing up to "counter the chaos that was going on," referring to the well-organized and sustained demonstrations against the bill that started June 23 during the first special session. Activists managed to shout down passage of an identical bill in the closing minutes of that session, forcing Perry to call a second session.
"It really was the hand of God that held us up," she said.
"The power of prayer that day was immense," he said.
The entire process weighed heavy on his heart, mind and soul. For several hours he stood on the Senate floor July 12 defending HB 2 against questions from Democrat lawmakers opposed to the measure. Hegar authored Senate Bill 1, the identical companion bill to HB 2. The bill passed the Senate on party lines, with one pro-life Democrat Eddie Lucio of Brownsville voting for it.
"This has changed my life for the better," Hegar said. "Texas is better after signing this legislation today."
Bonnie Pritchett is a correspondent for the Southern Baptist TEXAN (www.texanonline.net), newsjournal of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.