Hundreds Protest Texas Abortion Restrictions

More than 600 women's rights protesters have crowded into the Texas Capitol as lawmakers prepare to vote on some of the toughest abortion restrictions in the country.

The Republican-controlled Legislature is scheduled to vote Sunday on the new laws as time was running out in a special session.

The bills would ban abortions after 20 weeks, require that they take place in surgical centers and restrict where and when women can take abortion-inducing pills. Part of the new law would also require doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles.

Supporters say the measures are intended to protect women's health, but opponents call them needless regulations to make abortions more difficult to obtain.

If passed, 90 percent of the abortion clinics in Texas would close.

Sunday 4:05 p.m. Update:

A Democrat-led parliamentary tactic has delayed House discussion of hotly debated proposals restricting abortion as time ticks away on Texas' special legislative session.

Rep. Sylvester Turner of Houston used a technicality to derail debate of a separate criminal justice bill until Sunday evening. 

That will make it harder for the GOP-controlled chamber to finish that bill and take up another with tough new restrictions on abortion, including after 20 weeks.

The House wants to pass the abortion measure before midnight to give the Senate time to consider it before the 30-day special session ends Tuesday. 

But Turner used the House rule book to freeze the House -- at least for now. 

As the House ground to a halt, hundreds of abortion rights protesters crowded the public gallery and surrounding Capitol. 

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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