UPDATE: Abortion bills pass Texas House State Affairs Committee


Updated at 1:30 p.m. 

The Texas House State Affairs Committee approved abortion bills HB16, HB60 and SB 5 Friday afternoon. The full House chamber is expected to debate on bills Sunday. 

Original Story:

Following many hours of emotional, citizen testimony on abortion bills, the Texas House State Affairs Committee adjourned and left two abortion bills pending in committee.

According to multiple twitter reporters, more than 700 people registered to speak on HB16 and HB60, bills that would add additional restrictions to receiving abortions in Texas. Both bills were filed by Rep. Jodie Laubenberg, R-Austin, along with several other authors.

The commitee hearing was almost 15 hours long. Speakers ranged from grandparents to college students, and included voices from both sides of the abortion debate.

HB 16, or the so-called “fetal pain bill,” would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. HB 60 would add several more restrictions to having abortions in Texas. Lawmakers supporting the bill have said these bills aim to make abortion safer in Texas, but critiquers of the bills have said it would make it more difficult for Texas women to get an abortion.

Several UT students, recent UT graduates and even UT professors spoke to the committee during the late hours Thursday evening and early hours Friday morning. The committee did not adjourn until 3:45 Friday morning, though registered speakers who did not get a chance to testify kept speaking.

UT Professor Joseph Potter also spoke in opposition to the fetal pain bill and other abortion legislation. He said the sonogram law from the previous session, which requires women to have a sonogram before receiving an abortion, has made it more difficult for many women to get an abortion.

“This is not going to be anything to help women’s health,” Potter said. “The brunt of the impact is going to be on low-income women.”

Leslie Tisdale, communications studies senior and a former president of the University Democrats, pointed out to the committee that Texas high school textbooks say fetuses begin feeling pain at 28 weeks, while HB 16 claims fetuses begin feeling pain at 20 weeks. This is a discrepancy that concerns her, she said, since she is looking to becoming a teacher.

“I ask you all to reconsider this bill,” Tisdale said to the committee.

Activists from the LGBTQ community also waited in the long line of testify to speak on the abortion bills. Lauren Cozart, who identifies as lesbian and is a former child protective services investigator for Travis County, said she was speaking against the abortion bills for herself and other women in Texas.

Quite frankly, I'm a lesbian. Unless I get the next Jesus in me, I'm not getting pregnant,” Cozart said.

She said she has seen women with minimal-wage paying jobs who have struggled to feed the children they already have. More mouths to feed would make life even harder, Cozart said.

Ash Hall, a UT graduate and former campus LGBTQ activist, also spoke against the abortion bills for the LGBTQ community. Hall said there are those who will attempt to force themselves on lesbian women in order to have “corrective sex” to try and make them straight. Hall said it is crucial abortion remains an option for these women, who are raped.

Earlier this week, the Texas Senate passed SB 5, a bill that includes many of the provisions the two house bills include. Many conservative Texas lawmakers have supported the abortion bills, while Democrats have been opposed to the legislation.

This article has been updated since it was posted.

Follow Bobby Blanchard on Twitter @bobbycblanchard.