Politics

2nd special session begins Monday in Austin to address three issues, including abortion

Sunday, June 30, 2013

A second legislative special session begins Monday afternoon in Austin. There are three issues on the agenda, but Senate Bill 5 -- focusing on abortion -- is what will have the nation's attention, just as it did much of last week.

It began Tuesday night in the final hours of the first special session with Sen. Wendy Davis (D-Fort Worth) and her now famous filibuster, followed by the boisterous gallery crowd that prevented a last-second vote on the state's new abortion bill.

"Members, I am rising on the floor today to humbly give voice to thousands of Texans who have been ignored," Davis said.

Forty hours later, Governor Rick Perry called for a second special session to take up the measure again.

"What we witnessed Tuesday was nothing more than the hijacking of the democratic process," Perry said.

The bill would ban abortions after 20 weeks of gestation, restrict the clinics in which abortions could be performed and would add new medical requirement, which would in essence close most of the clinics statewide. But the fight this week seemed to be just as much about the process as it was about the issue.

"Republicans are in the majority in the state. We represent millions of people, and a couple of hundred people in the gallery interfered with the process," said Sen. Dan Patrick (D-Houston).

Heading into this second session, there is already talk about how Republican leadership will handle the vote this time. Could we see a repeat? The capitol filled with pro-choice advocates chanting and cheering?

Davis appeared Sunday morning on ABC's This Week and was asked if she thinks the bill will pass this time.

"I just refuse to say I believe it will happen," she said. "I'm an eternal optimist. I believe in people; I believe in the power of democracy. And I'm going to fight with every fiber I have to keep it from passing."

The session begins at 2pm Monday and will also tackle transportation funding and the establishment of a mandatory life sentence without parole for capital felonies committed by 17-year-old offenders.

Find Tom on Facebook at TomAbrahams or on Twitter at @tomabrahams

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