Jessica Farrar

Local women's rights activist Nancy Ward addresses the crowd at Stand With Texas Women's Panel on Wednesday.

Photo Credit: Aaron Berecka | Daily Texan Staff

House Bill 2, which passed in the state Legislature this summer, will result in the closure of all but six abortion clinics in Texas, which some say might have implications for UT students.

On Wednesday, the LBJ School of Public Affairs’ Feminist Policy Alliance and The Texas Observer co-hosted a panel on the effects HB 2 will have on Texas women. The panel, Stand for Women’s Health in Texas, featured Rep. Jessica Farrar, D-Houston, local activist Jessica Luther and Heather Busby, who works with National Abortion Rights Action
League [NARAL].

Dave Mann, editor of The Texas Observer, moderated the event. He said interest in the subject was obvious following Wendy Davis’ (D-Fort Worth) 11-hour filibuster to block the bill. Though Davis’ filibuster did not last until midnight, disruptions from the crowd gathered in the Capitol delayed a vote on the bill until the legislative session was already over. The bill was passed in a special session mandated by Gov. Ricky Perry. 

“We want to open discussion around the issue of women’s health … Obviously there was a lot of energy around the filibuster this summer,” Mann said. 

The panel centered around the implications of these stricter guidelines on abortion clinics, what could be done to address their affects and what could be done to change them. 

Farrar was a vocal opponent of HB 2 during the summer’s legislative sessions.

“You’re going to see more women having more unwanted pregnancies,” Farrar said. “You’ve got health care providers saying, ‘We are opposed to this.’ … It was political motivation to pass this bill, this wasn’t a response to any complaints from the clinics.”

Luther said basic preventative health care for women would also be adversely affected by the bill.

“The clinics you see shut down don’t only do abortions, so reproductive health will be affected,” Luther said. “We need to keep reminding the state and legislatures that we are here and we’re still angry.”

Luther, Farrar and Busby also discussed ways they planned to react to the bill. Farrar stated that there is a lawsuit in the works. 

“This bill is closing affordable clinics for women, making it harder for college-aged women and low income women to get what they need,” Busby said. “I’ve got people calling and saying ‘What can I do now? What can I do to help?’”

Luther said pro-choice supporters and organizations may begin to bus women from rural areas across the state to abortion clinics that are still open in Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, Fort Worth and Austin. 

“That’s exciting to see Texans taking responsibility … It’s really concrete activism,” Luther said. 

LIVEBLOG: Texas House meets to discuss abortion legislation in second special session

9:15 p.m. — The Texas House tentatively approved Rep. Jodie Laubenberg's abortion bill on Tuesday, following more than 10 hours of debate. The House must vote on the bill one more time before it can be sent to the seante.

Representatives tried to apply more than 20 amendments to HB2, but they were all tabled.

The Texas House will meet again Wednesday, at 10 a.m.

2:00 p.m. — House republicans have now turned down multiple amendments to Rep. Jodie Laubenberg's bill.

Amendments have sought to allow abortion after 20 weeks in case of incest or rape and expand the restraints of when a women's life and health is in danger. Several lawmakers claimed the bill was unconstitutional, and would not survive a court battle.

Laubenberg has refused every amendment offered thus far. The majority of House Republicans have managed to defeat many amendments. 

11:55 a.m. — Rep. Senfroncica Thompson's amendment, which would have allowed for abortion after 20 weeks in the case of rape or incest, was tabled by the Texas House.

11:29 a.m. — Though Rep. Laubenberg, R-Parker, has said repeatedly she would not accept any amendments to her bill, Rep. Senfronia Thompson, D-Houston, has filed an amendment that would allow for abortion after twenty weeks in case of incest or rape.

"I don't want [women] to have to use a coat hanger," Thompson said. "I want them to have a choice."

Laubenberg, however, has said repeatedly she does not want her bill to be amended. 

Thompson is currently taking questions on her amendment.

10:47 a.m. — After Rep. Jodie Laubenberg, R-Parker, laid out her bill before the entire Texas House,  Rep. Jessica Farrar, D-Houston, spent more than 10 minutes asking Laubenberg questions.

Farrar criticized the bill at several points, calling the exceptions in the bill "narrow." She also crticized Laubenberg's responses to her questions.

"I am not asking about your opinon on her decision," Farrar said at one point. "I am asking about her health and safety."

"I'm the one asking questions," she said later. "That didn't answer my question."

10:23 a.m. — The Texas House convened at 10 a.m., and is expected to begin discussing abortion legislation and House Bill 2.

HB2 would ban abortion after 20 weeks, increase regulations at abortion clinics statewide and add additional restrictions to the handling of abortion-inducing drugs.

The bill was filed by Rep. Jodie Laubenber, R-Parker. Last week, it passed through the House State Affairs Committee after more than nine hours of testimony. More than 1,000 people registered to testify, but less than 100 had the opportunity to.

Rep. Sylvester Turner, D-Houston, told the members of the committee he would attempt to add amendments to the bill that would set aside state appropriations to help abortion clinics pay for the increased regulations that many fear would close clinics otherwise.

Laubenberg has said she would prefer her bill go unamended.

Follow Bobby Blanchard on Twitter @bobbycblanchard.