Supporters, opponents of abortion legislation rally at Texas Capitol

Bobby Blanchard

Supporters of abortion legislation in blue and opponents of the bills in orange mixed together at the Texas Capitol Monday night, chanting, screaming and singing over each other.

Two different rallies took place at the Capitol in the evening. One for the abortion legislation and another against it. Thousands of activists and citizens converged together on the South steps.

The rally for the bill, organized by the “Texas Right to Life” organization, featured many nationally known speakers, including former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Pastor of First Baptist Church Robert Jeffress and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott.

Jeffress, who is known for his controversial statements regarding religion, cited a recent survey that found 64 percent of Americans are against abortion in the second trimester.

“The American people are on the side of life,” Jeffress said. “This battle is not between Republicans and Democrats — the battle is between life and darkness."

Abbott, who many expect to announce soon he is running for Texas’s governorship, also spoke to the crowd. He pledged he would fight for the abortion legislation if it got challenged.

“When this bill leaves the statehouse, it is going to wind up in the courthouse,” Abbott said. “And when it does, you'll have an attorney general that has your back."

Lt. Governor David Dewhurst, who has faced criticism for the way he handled the Texas Senate in the final hours of the first special session, told the crowd the bill would pass.

At 8 p.m., while the anti-abortion rally was still ongoing, a march against abortion legislation started at the Capitol. Protestors and opponents of Senate Bill 1 and House Bill 2 marched down Congress Avenue and back up Lavaca Street, chanting along the way. A Facebook event for the march had more than 3,000 RSVPs.

At one point, the march paused outside Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s mansion and chanted “come and take it.”

Marchers moved up the Capitol’s south lawn as the anti-abortion rally was ending, and opposing sides merged into a single, hectic crowd.

The bills filed on abortion in the second special session would ban abortion after 20 weeks, increase requirements at abortion clinics and heighten regulations on abortion-inducing drugs. Supporters of the bill claim it would make the procedure safer, and opponents say it would make getting an abortion more difficult.

Follow Bobby Blanchard on Twitter @bobbycblanchard.