In a closed ceremony today in the auditorium at the capitol, Governor Perry signed into law one of the most restrictive and controversial abortion bills in the nation. The ceremony was about twenty minutes long, and was live-streamed on the Texas Tribune website.
A group of around 40 to 50 protestors gathered outside the auditorium holding signs and dressed in black chanting, “shame” loudly once the bill signing was underway. The protestors could be heard clearly on the live-feed from the Tribune.
So now that Governor Good Hair Slick Rick Lame Duck Perry signed the omnibus House Bill 2 into law, what's next?
Planned Parenthood is likely to file an injunction in federal court, essentially stopping the law from going into effect. After this the law still has to go through the courts and appeals process, where our state tax dollars will graciously fund the attorney's fees defending this law.
Read more to see what the National President of Planned Parenthood, Cecile Richards, and Senator Wendy Davis herself had to say about the passage of this bill. Senator Wendy Davis released this brief statement regarding the signing of HB 2:
When Governor Perry signed the bill, he signaled a clear break with Texas families. Governor Perry and other state leaders have now taken sides and chosen narrow partisan special interests over mothers, daughters, sisters and every Texan who puts the health of their family, the well-being of their neighbors, and the future of Texas ahead of politics and personal ambitions.
Planned Parenthood released the following statement earlier today:
“The bill signed into law by Governor Perry today makes a terrible situation for women's health even worse. Already, Rick Perry and other politicians have cut more than 130,000 Texas women off from basic preventive health care, including lifesaving cancer screenings and well-woman check-ups, and this new law will severely limit access to safe and legal abortion, which will cause women to resort to desperate and dangerous measures. These relentless attacks on women's health have a devastating impact on women who already have the least access to health care.”
This bill will inevitably be in court for years, but this was something that the Republicans writing the bill anticipated. The bill has what is called a severability clause, which is relatively common. The particular clause in HB 2 states that if one part of the bill is struck down, the other parts of the bill are to remain in effect, in essence preserving a lot of the bad stuff in bill.
What is different about this severability clause is that it states the not just parts of the bill but the application of parts of the bill, are safe if a court strikes something in the bill down, and declares it to be unconstitutional. So to make the bill null and void a court will have to strike down every conceivable application of the bill, but only when it arises, and is challenged in court. Perhaps a judge can rule that it is unconstitutional and that the language of this bill cannot stand. Either way it creates grounds for the new Texas Attorney General to sue whenever a court makes a decision.
Whatever happens next, one chapter in Texas political history has closed but another has just begun with the passage of this bill. As Cecile Richards put it, “The fight over this law will move to the courts, while the bigger fight for women's access to health care in Texas gains steam. People are enraged by this law, and it has created a whole new generation of activists who are in it for the long run.”