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Nearly 4,000 Give Testimonies On Abortion Restrictions
Updated: Saturday, August 3 2013, 04:14 PM CDT
It was another night spent burning the midnight oil at the Texas State Capitol. More than 3,800 people weighed in on Senate Bill 1, some of the most restrictive abortion legislation in the country.
It was a very peaceful hearing centered around a very politically charged and emotional issue, and when the hearing ended just before 2 a.m., lawmakers say all of the 475 people who signed up to speak on time had the chance to do so.
"Well over 20 hours at this point"
That's how long Kristi Lara had been waiting at the Capitol. Then, just before 2 this morning… she got her wish: her chance to speak directly to lawmakers on SB 1.
"We're not gonna stand idly by and let this process happen without our voices being heard," said Lara.
When it was all said and done the Senate Health and Human Services committee had heard more than 13 hours of testimony since 12:35 p.m. Monday. While nearly everyone left during the last hour was wearing orange, both sides spoke out throughout the day.
There were rallies outside earlier in the evening, but inside, unlike a recent house committee meeting where more than a 1,000 people were denied the right to speak, the atmosphere was calm.
"Everyone was courteous, we had some very thoughtful discussion," said Sen. Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound), the committee chair.
According to Sen. Nelson, everyone who signed up in time got to speak. The hearing ended just after 1:45a.m., with lawmakers showing off a stack of 3,800 pieces of paper representing all testimonies they'd received both written and oral.
Sen. Nelson says if the House passes the bill, her committee will then look to take a vote.
"There won't be any more public testimony, but this committee will have, I'm sure, some very lengthy discussions about the bill."
Later Tuesday morning, the abortion bill HB 2 heads to the full House floor, with the debate set to start at 10 a.m.
Pro-life groups say they could have people at the Capitol as early as 5 a.m. Planned Parenthood is also planning to kick off a statewide bus tour at the Capitol to raise awareness of the bills.