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A Texas end run on Roe v. Wade abortion rights?

Despite fierce resistance from Democrats, Texas Senate Republicans on Friday pushed through a bold anti-abortion bill, becoming the 13th state to ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy,

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Abortion rights advocates voice their opposition to HB2 outside the Senate Chamber in the State Capitol in Austin, Texas on Friday night, July 12, 2013. Republicans in the Texas Legislature passed an omnibus abortion bill that is one of the most restrictive in the nation.

Tamir Kalifa/AP

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The basic right to have an abortion remains unchanged in the US, but the backbone of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision – that women anywhere in the country should be able to have one – may become an anachronism given moves by the Texas Senate and elsewhere to push abortion to the brink by proxy.

Despite fierce resistance and protests from state Democrats, Texas Senate Republicans on Friday pushed through a bold anti-abortion bill, becoming the 13th state to ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, and the 10th to do so by citing the potential for “fetal pain” at that age. At 20 weeks, a fetus is fully formed into the shape of a human baby, but researchers say the extent to which the fetus can feel pain is likely on a continuum.

The abortion bill vote in the Texas Senate comes amidst a dramatic surge of conservatism at the state level in counterpoint to President Obama’s more progressive federal era in Washington.

While Obama was reelected in part on a pro-women platform in 2012, all in all, 17 states have limited abortion rights in 2013 alone.

Before passing the bill on Friday, the Texas legislature two weeks ago was the site of an 11-hour filibuster by Democrat Wendy Davis that temporarily stalled the bill, a daring move hailed by supporters as akin to the classic Jimmy Stewart film, “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.” Friday’s deliberations were also marked by a circus atmosphere as protesters ringed the capitol in Austin, and some women attempted to chain themselves to a balustrade singing, a la John Lennon, “All we are saying, is give choice a chance.”

Perhaps more significantly for the abortion rights debate than the 20-week limit, however, the bill, which is expected to be signed by Gov. Rick Perry, imposes ambulatory surgical center standards on clinics that will, opponents say, dramatically reduce the number of clinics available to women who want to exercise their Constitutional right.

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