For many Latino politicians, emotions were running high after Texas passed one of the most restrictive abortion bills in the nation.
The bill, which bans most abortions past 20 weeks of pregnancy, passed the Texas State Senate just before midnight on Friday. In addition to restricting abortions, the legislation places new requirements on which facilities could perform abortion procedures and limits a woman’s ability to have an abortion by taking a pill.
State Senator Leticia Van de Putte called the legislation part of an ongoing “War on Women” and said that low income Texas women will disproportionately have to deal with the consequences.
“If this bill becomes law, women across the state, especially those living in rural areas and on low incomes, will effectively lose their constitutional right to control their own bodies and be deprived of health services,” she wrote on her Facebook page. “The War on Women continues, and tonight, the women of Texas lost.”
Democrats proposed 20 amendments to the bill such as allowing exceptions in the case of rape and incest, but the Republican majority passed the legislation unchanged. All but one Democrat voted against the legislation. According to Planned Parenthood of Texas, the new law would essentially shut down all but six abortion facilities.
After California, Texas has the largest Hispanic population, with Latinos compromising 38 percent of the population. In an opinion piece for NBCLatino, political scientist Dr. Victoria M. DeFrancesco Soto argued that because of the demographics and the fact that Latinas are more likely to be uninsured, Hispanic women would be among those most affected by the law.
“The growth of the Latino population, their greater likelihood of not being insured, and the growing restrictions on healthcare put Latino families and Latinas in particular in a precarious position,” she wrote.
However, not all Latino politicians agree with the “War on Women” rhetoric. During floor debate on Tuesday, Dallas Republican Representative Jason Villalba expressed his support for the legislation.
“I shall stand with Texas women, but I shall stand here no longer and be accused of conducting a ‘war on women’,” he said. “We care for and we fight for human baby lives.”
As Villalba showed a sonogram of his own child at 13 weeks, he added, “I will fight, and I will fight, and I will fight to protect my baby.”
And Villalba wasn’t the only one to bring strong emotions to the debate. Friday’s debate took place before a packed gallery of abortion activists. Supporters of the bill wore orange and those against the legislation wore blue. State troopers reportedly confiscated items they said could be used as projectiles, including tampons and maxi pads.
Sen. Wendy Davis successfully filibustered the bill two weeks ago. Her 11-hour filibuster stalled the bill until after the deadline for ending the session of the Legislature. She became an overnight sensation as more than 180,000 people tuned in to watch the filibuster online. But her victory was short lived as Governor Perry called another special session to reconsider the bill.
Gov. Perry, who will sign the bill into law in the next few days, applauded the legislation.
“Today the Texas Legislature took its final step in our historic effort to protect life,” he said. “This legislation builds on the strong and unwavering commitment we have made to defend life and protect women’s health.”
But opponents of the legislation say the fight over their reproductive rights is far from over.
“These extreme and deeply unpopular attacks on women’s health have lit a fuse – they’ve engaged many more people in the democratic process in Texas – they’ve started something big that can’t be undone,” Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards said. “People are outraged by what’s happened here in Texas.”
State Rep. Jessica Farrar, who spoke to demonstrators marking down Congress Avenue, told the Texas Tribune that Republicans will have voters to face in the next election.
“It’s not just the eyes of Texas that are upon them, it’s the eyes of world thanks to you,” Farrar said.