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Texas House passes abortion law: why it matters beyond Lone Star State

Legislation passed Wednesday that would ban abortion after 20 weeks and impose other restrictions. Texas has played an outsized part in keeping the issue on the national agenda.

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Opponents of HB 2, an abortion bill, yell outside the Texas House after the final vote, Wednesday, in Austin, Texas.

Eric Gay/AP

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There’s nothing small or shy about Texas. And so it was Wednesday, when the state House of Representatives passed a bill containing major new restrictions on abortion.

Crowds cheered and jeered for both sides, the supporters clad in blue, opponents in orange. After hours of debate over amendments, the tally came in as expected, largely along party lines, 96 to 49. The bill now heads for a state Senate committee on Thursday, and a vote in the full Senate either later this week or early next week.

State Sen. Wendy Davis (D) of Forth Worth, who shot to fame last month when she staged a successful 11-hour filibuster against similar legislation, predicted the new bill will pass.

 

"It will be very difficult because unfortunately the voices that have been here crying out against this bill are not going to be heard," Senator Davis told CNN.

"But I don't think it's the end,” she added. “It's the beginning of a battle line.”

The legislation would ban abortion after 20 weeks’ pregnancy, require abortion clinics to upgrade to become hospital-like surgical centers, and require abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at a local hospital. Supporters say the measures are designed to protect women’s health; opponents say they threaten many of Texas’s abortion clinics with closure.

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