Texas Abortion Debate Resumes at Hearing, Rally

Monday, Jul 8, 2013  |  Updated 11:45 PM CDT
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Activists on both sides of the abortion debate are at the Texas Capitol again as lawmakers debate a contentious bill that would create new restrictions.

Omar Villafranca, NBC 5 News

Activists on both sides of the abortion debate are at the Texas Capitol again as lawmakers debate a contentious bill that would create new restrictions.

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Activists on both sides of the abortion debate are at the Texas Capitol again as lawmakers debate a contentious bill that would create new restrictions.

About 2,000 anti-abortion protesters wearing blue gathered Monday night to support the bill. Some held signs saying, "Unborn babies feel pain" and "Abortion kills children." Attorney General Greg Abbott told the crowd he would "stand for life" in spirit, even though he uses a wheelchair.

"It is very emotionally charged," said Danielle Goepferich, an anti-abortion activist. "As a pro-lifer tonight, I came out here with the weapons of silence and prayer -- silence against the verbal, violent attacks that are coming from the pro-abortionists."

Meanwhile, about 1,000 orange-clad abortion rights activists marched through downtown Austin against the bill.

"I really really find myself trying to find that compassionate place within myself to say, 'These are humans, too.' That's a hard place to go to when you feel attacked," said Jessica Grace, an abortion-rights activist.

The bill would ban abortions after 20 weeks and impose restrictions that advocates say would lead to the closure of most Texas abortion providers.

Texas is not the first state to move toward tough new restrictions on abortion. But it has become a flashpoint in the national abortion debate, sparked by a nearly 13-hour filibuster by Fort Worth Sen. Wendy Davis that blocked the new restrictions from becoming law in the last special session.

Perry Says 'Mob Rule' Set Back Abortion Bill

Gov. Rick Perry says "mob rule" derailed passage of a restrictive abortion measure but is confident the bill will pass once the Legislature convenes Monday.

The Republican said on "Fox News Sunday" that the Senate gallery last month was "out of control" at the conclusion of a filibuster by Democratic Sen. Wendy Davis. He said, "Nothing like that has ever happened in Texas history."

A raucous crowd of abortion rights activists disrupted Senate action, prompting Perry to call a second special session. The Texas House will vote this week on the measure, which would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy and impose other restrictions.

NBC 5's Omar Villafranca contributed to this report.

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