• LIVEBLOG: Texas Senate considers abortion legislation

    For constant live updates on the Texas Senate's consideration of abortion legislation on Twitter, follow Bobby Blanchard on Twitter @bobbycblanchard and Laura Wright on Twitter @wrightlauras. 

    11:11: Texas Senate still in final discussion of bill, with the estimated time of completion for the night unknown.

    10:14: Pro-aborion rights activists are now marching downtown.

    9:45: A total of 20 amendments have been tabled, all of which have been turned down by the Senate.

    Several protesters in the gallery have been removed after chaining themselves to the railing. The Senate moves on to final statements, amidst shouting from the gallery and calls from Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, to allow the process to continue.

    Pro-abortion and anti-abortion crowds have begun to form around the south steps of the Capitol, as the rotunda is currently at capacity and no more protesters or observers are being let in.

    8:43: So far, 12 amendments have been turned down by the Senate.

    At least 19 amendments were filed on the abortion legislation. The majortiy of votes against amendments have been 19-11.

    Bobby Blanchard and Laura Wright, who have been live-tweeting and live blogging from watching the Texas Senate's live stream,  will be leaving The Daily Texan office to go to the Capitol as the debate winds down. Rallies are expected outside the Capitol. Follow them on Twitter @bobbycblanchard and @wrightlauras for live updates and live tweeting. 

    7:45 p.m. — Senators began to consider amendments shortly after 6:30 p.m.

    The first amendment was relating to abortion clinic's standards. The second amendment was relating to exceptions to the 20-week rule for the case of rape or incest.

    Both of the amendments were tabled. The second amendment, filed by Sen. Carlos Uresti, D-San Antonio, resulted in a fierce debate between Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston and Sen. Glenn Hegar, R-Katy. The two are known to be close friends.

    Whitmire became frustrated when Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, asked if an amendment would endanger passage of the bill.

    "If this amendment is not accepted, it is pure politics and that makes me sick," Whitmire said.

    5:50 p.m. — Lawmakers have spent the better part of the afternoon questioning Sen. Glenn Hager, R-Katy, who filed the abortion legislation in the Texas Senate.

    The debate is expected to go into the night. If the Texas Senate passes the bill without any amendments, it would go to Texas Gov. Rick Perry's desk for a signature. 

    The abortion legislation would ban abortion after 20 weeks, place additional restrictions on abortion clinics and increase restrictions on abortion-inducing drugs. Supporters of the bill claim it makes abortion safer, and opponents of the bill claim it would make abortion more difficult to obtain. 

    Protestors and supporters of the abortion legislation have stormed the Texas Capitol to watch the debate. Earlier today, the Department of Public Safety released a press release claiming that it had claimed 18 jars of feces from people attempting to enter the Capitol. DPS got some angry backlash on Twitter for also confiscating tampons.  DPS eventually reversed its policy and started letting tampons into the building.

  • DPS confiscates suspected jars of poop at Texas Capitol

    Following weeks of debate and national attention, the Texas Senate convened at 2 p.m. to begin debating abortion legislation, pulling in crowds to watch the final stage of the bill.

    Before entering the Capitol, however, people's personal bags and belongings were searched. In a press released, DPS said they have confiscated jars of feces, urine and other items. 

    "During these inspections, DPS officers have thus far discovered one jar suspected to contain urine, 18 jars suspected to contain feces, and three bottles suspected to contain paint," the statement said. "All of these items – as well as significant quantities of feminine hygiene products, glitter and confetti possessed by individuals – were required to be discarded; otherwise those individuals were denied entry into the gallery."

    According to the press release, the Texas Senate authorized the enhanced searches.

    The abortion legislation would ban abortion after 20 weeks, place additional restrictions and rules on abortion clinics and increase restrictions on abortion-inducing drugs. 

    Follow Bobby Blanchard on Twitter @bobbycblanchard.

  • Nineteen UT-Austin faculty members sign letter against Texas abortion legislation

    Updated at 5:36 p.m.: Fourteen more UT faculty members have added their names to the open letter, bringing the total number of faculty supporters to 19.

    Original story: As the Texas Senate gets ready to pass abortion legislation and send the bill to Texas Gov. Rick Perry's desk, UT faculty members have signed an open letter that speaks against the abortion legislation.

    The letter features professors and activists statewide. It calls for rallies and protests nationwide and announces a rally Monday, July 15 at the Texas Capitol at 8 p.m. 

    "We believe it is possible to win back our rights, but only if we take a stand in the way that people have been standing for their rights in Brazil, Egypt, and Greece: by understanding that popular protest has the ability to change what a narrow minority of people impose under the fiction of legality," the letter states.

    Five UT faculty members signed the letter, including English associate professor Brian A. Bremen, American studies professor Janet M. Davis, government associate professor Terri E. Givens, radio-television-film lecturer Karen Kocher and education policy and planning professor Angela Valenzuela. Two UT doctoral students also signed the letter.

    The abortion legislation in the Texas legislature would ban abortion after twenty weeks, increase regulations at abortion clinics and attach additional rules to abortion-inducing drugs. Supporters of the legislation have said it makes the abortion procedure safer. Opponents of the legislation have claimed the bill will make it more difficult to obtain an abortion in Texas.

    The Texas Senate is set to convene at 2 p.m. on Friday.

    Follow Bobby Blanchard on Twitter @bobbycblanchard.

    Correction: This article has been updated with the correct date of an expected rally. 

  • Texas A&M president announces he is stepping down

    Texas A&M President R. Bowen Loftin has announced to faculty that he will step down from his position in January 2014.

    Loftin notifed university leaders on Friday that he will be stepping down from the position to start and lead a new instutite in Texas A&M's engineering department.

    Loftin, who was president during A&M's departure from the Big 12 and entrance to the SEC, said in a statement he is looking forward to returning to teaching.

    In a statement, the university said A&M Chancellor John Sharp will launch a national search for the new president immediately.

    Follow Bobby Blanchard on Twitter @bobbycblanchard. 

  • The Morning Texan: Abortion legislation at final stage

    The temperature in Austin is staying high. According to the National Weather Service, Friday's high is expected to be 101 degrees. This weekend will remain much the same, although there is a chance of thunderstorms Sunday night.

    Today at 2 p.m., the Senate will convene to debate abortion legislation. If they pass the bill, as they are expected to do, it will head to Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

    Here is some morning reading:

    Yesterday's most read story online: UT student Varun Bhatnagar survived Asiana Flight 214 and the plane's crash landing. Check out his story. 

    What you have to read: While a presentation from MyEdu’s executives to the UT System’s Board of Regents elicited a positive response from the Regents on Thursday, some UT students are not pleased with the changes in MyEdu and the direction the company has taken since the system invested $10 million in 2011.

    In case you missed it: UT is in talks with Masik Collegiate Fragrances to develop a school scent specifically designed for UT that could be released by the end of this year.