House passes abortion restrictions after passionate debate
AUSTIN, Texas —
It's crunch time for the Texas legislature. With just 10 days left, lawmakers are working late Friday and through the weekend.
One of the biggest bills to get preliminary approval Friday night was SB 8 relating to abortion restrictions. The bill puts limitations on some types of the procedure and stipulates how fetal remains can be disposed. The bill almost took restrictions a step farther, but even some house Republicans stood up to say enough is enough.
Around 7:30 p.m. Friday, the Texas House of Representatives passed a bill outlawing one form of second trimester abortion. They also required fetal remains to be buried or cremated -- banning donation for medical research.
Other lawmakers attempted adding amendment after amendment to the bill. One of the more controversial amendments came from Rep. Matt Schaefer (R-Tyler). His amendment aimed to charge physicians with a state jail felony if they performed abortions on fetuses with severe abnormalities after 20 weeks.
"What is your rational?" Rep. Rafael Anchia (D-Dallas) asked Schaefer. "It's a person created in the image of God," Schaefer said. He went on to argue that life is sacred -- in sickness and in health.
"We don't kill a baby because it is sick," Schaefer said.
However, it was Rep. Byron Cook (R-Corsicana) who got everyone's attention when he told lawmakers to stop trying to play God.
"Everything is not black and white. It is not cut and dry," said Cook.
Cook has received multiple awards for his work on pro-life legislation, but said this was too much.
"I'm not here to tell you we should force somebody to go to term or not go to term. I am here to tell you there are times we need to let people figure this out on their own and this is one of those times," he said.
Friday night lawmakers also gave preliminary approval to SB 30 which directs the State Board of Education to draft materials instructing students on how to interact with peace officers.
SB 1849, known as the Sandra Bland Act, also passed unanimously to third and final reading.
The Texas House will convene from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and noon to 7 p.m. Sunday. If SB 2 restricting property tax hikes and SB 6 also known as the "bathroom bill," are not passed by the house, a special session could be called.