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Early Start for Senate Abortion Debate

Capitol doors open at 7am for committee hearing sign up
Richard Whittaker, 2:30pm, Sun. Jul. 7, 2013
Photo by John Anderson
Another day, another rapid fire committee hearing on abortion rights in Texas

It'll be an early start for anyone giving testimony on Senate Bill 1 – the new restrictions on reproductive rights and abortion provision – at the Senate Health and Human Services Committee on July 8: Testimony starts at 10am, but sign-up opens at 9am. Expect the lines to be long when the Capitol opens at 7am.

The committee usually either meets in the Senate chamber or room E2.020. This time, they're taking over E1.036, normally assigned to the Senate Finance Committee. That's down in the Capitol Extension (go into the main building, then take the elevators down to E1, and go all the way to the far end of the underground extension.

Last week, when the House State Affairs Committee heard its own version of the bill, speakers were limited to three minutes each, and testimony was cut off at midnight. Tomorrow, the Senate will allow only two minutes per speaker (if you think that's limited, it's pretty clear that Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst wanted a formal hearing with no testimony at all). For anyone planning to hand in written testimony, the committee clerk requests that they provide 20 copies with their name on each.

Republicans are getting gully about reducing abortion access, much of it either following Texas' line or blazing a trail for the Lone Star State's new restrictions. Wisconsin governor Scott Walker has signed a bill requiring transvaginal ultrasounds (much as Texas passed in 2011), but he beat the Texas GOP on the requirement that abortion providers have admitting privileges. North Carolina lawmakers went one better, bolting abortion restrictions on an anti-Sharia law bill (making it a GOP twofer). On the national stage, according to the Weekly Standard, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, plans to introduce a 20-week abortion ban in the US Senate soon.

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