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Texas Women’s Health Advocates Gear Up For Another Fight: ‘A Fuse Has Been Lit In Austin’

Texas’ second special session kicks off on Monday, and activists on the ground are ready for another battle.

After thousands of protesters and state Sen. Wendy Davis (D-TX) successfully blocked a package of abortion restrictions from coming to a vote last week, Gov. Rick Perry (R) almost immediately called another extra lawmaking session. The governor has promised to reintroduce the anti-abortion measures — and, although the legislative schedule isn’t yet clear, activists are already planning to rally at the state capitol on Monday afternoon.

“The decision to force yet another special session on legislation to virtually ban abortion is an affront to the thousands of Texans who turned out in droves to oppose these efforts at every turn,” Cecile Richards, the president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund, said in a statement. “A fuse has been lit in Austin, and there is growing opposition across the state to these attacks that endanger women’s health and safety. People all across Texas are rising up to demand their voices be heard.”

Over 6,500 people have signed up to attend Monday’s rally at the state capitol. Richards and Ilyse Hogue, the president of NARAL Pro-Choice America — who are both native Texans — are slated to speak, along with several female lawmakers. Thousands of people in other parts of the country have pledged to attend a “virtual rally,” expressing their support for Texas women by changing their Facebook profile pictures.

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Regardless of the ongoing grassroots activism, abortion opponents in the state are already expressing confidence that the stringent restrictions will succeed this time around. “It will pass overwhelmingly and will become the law in the state,” Perry said in an interview on Friday with conservative radio host Laura Ingraham. Jonathan Saenz, the president of the anti-choice Texas Values group, echoed Perry’s sentiments in a recent interview with Reuters. “It seems as close to a sure thing as you can get,” Saenz said of the anti-abortion bill’s passage.

But Saenz also acknowledged that, with thousands of activists mobilizing in preparation for another special session, nothing is certain. “As we saw during the first special session, until it’s completely done and the process is finished, there are no guarantees,” he pointed out. “That’s going to motivate both sides to do everything they can to ensure victory.”