Over the past several years, Texas lawmakers have kept themselves busy by launching multiple attacks on women’s health. In 2011 and 2012, state officials slashed family planning funding, repeatedly attacked Planned Parenthood, and enacted stringent abortion restrictions. Not so this session.
As the San Antonio Express-News reports, every single anti-abortion bill proposed in Texas this year was successfully blocked before it reached the House or Senate floor. Of course, that wasn’t for lack of trying — altogether, anti-choice lawmakers introduced at least 24 different measures to restrict Texas women’s reproductive rights. Some of those bills even had the backing of key leaders in the state, like Gov. Rick Perry (R) and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst (R). But Democratic members of the state legislature pushed back, and won.
“Democrats stuck together very well this session and made strong arguments and strong advocacy on behalf of a woman’s right to choose,” state Sen. Kirk Watson (D), the head of Texas’ Democratic caucus, told the Express-News. “Just this week, I’ve had pressure from leadership pushing to bring up bills in an almost threatening way, and we have stood up to that. …Now we’re at the end of the session, and they’re dead.”
The failed anti-abortion legislation included a “fetal pain” measure that would have criminalized abortion services after the 20th week of pregnancy, as well as several bills intended to force abortion clinics in the state to close their doors.
Democrats in the state explained that anti-abortion lawmakers experienced significant backlash during the 2012 elections, in the height of the so-called “War on Women.” Republicans took a “big hit” in that election, and the balance of the legislature tipped. After Texas voters continued to express disapproval over the new legislation that compromised women’s health, GOP lawmakers began to relent. They even agreed to work to reverse some of the family planning cuts.
Not every state had similar success defeating anti-choice initiatives, however. In the first quarter of 2013, state lawmakers proposed an astounding 694 provisions about reproduction — and some of them, including the most stringent abortion bans this country has seen since Roe v. Wade legalized abortion over 40 years ago, became law this year.