Rhetoric and writing senior Andrew Lenz bore the long line to get into the Texas House of Representatives gallery because he wanted to send a message: stricter abortion restrictions will have a negative effect on young people in Texas.
The UT student carried a sign that read: “We’re not ashamed, we’re not sorry, keep your laws off our bodies.”
Lenz joined hundreds of protestors wearing orange at the Texas Capitol Sunday to oppose SB 5, a bill that would implement some of the harshest abortion regulations nationwide. UT and college students statewide have expressed concerns that the new regulations would make it harder for young people to deal with an unexpected pregnancy.
Students say the regulations would encourage students to get procedures that are less safe or make abortion procedures very expensive. Some say an early pregnancy can also affect the student’s future, including job prospects.
The House passed the bill Monday, amidst staunch Democratic opposition, and it now heads to the Senate for approval Tuesday. The Texas Legislature has until midnight Tuesday to pass the bill, the last day of the special session called by Gov. Rick Perry.
Although Lenz is a man and identifies as gay, he said he believes banning abortion for women might lead to restrictions on other groups.
“I know of people who should not be mothers right now,” Lenz said. “They’re still keeping the same lifestyle as they did in pre-motherhood – binge drinking, smoking pot and doing drugs. I don’t know what’s going on with the child. I don’t know what makes them mothers.”
SB 5 would require abortions be done in outpatient clinics instead of offices, require doctors administer abortion-inducing drugs in person and mandate doctors have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals in case of complications. The bill would also ban abortions after the 20 week of pregnancy.
Its supporters say the regulations would make abortions safer for women. However, opponents to the bill say it would force 37 of the state’s 42 abortion clinics to close, virtually banning it statewide.
“If you believe that it is a human being, then that human being also has rights, and we must protect that baby’s rights,” said state Rep. Jodie Laubenberg, R-Parker, the House sponsor of the bill.
Republican legislators in favor of the bill have faced many road bumps and detours trying to pass the bill over the past two days. On Sunday, Democrats talked about the bill for hours and attempted to get it thrown out by saying parliamentary procedure rules were violated.
The Senate must approve the bill before it heads to Perry’s desk. Democrats have vowed to filibuster the bill, or kill it by talking for hours and preventing the chamber from voting.