North Texas organizers and activists on both sides of the abortion
debate were out in force again Monday at the Texas Capitol, pledging to dig
their heels in again for a second special session and ensure their voices are
It was hard not to hear them Monday -- especially the estimated 5,000 orange-clad activists who rallied against the abortion regulation bill inside and outside the Capitol.
Scattered among the sea of orange were clusters of blue-clad counter-demonstrators who prayed, clutched crosses, sang and watched the debate from the Senate gallery, but they were far outnumbered by opponents of the legislation.
It was the largest demonstration at the Capitol in recent memory. Inside, state troopers lined some hallways in a clear sign that officials plan every effort to control the chaos that marked the end of the first special legislative session last week.
"The odds are against us on this one, but that doesn't mean we should let it happen," said Alexis Lohse, a Fort Worth mother of two. "The abortion debate in Texas is not settled."
But supporters are confident they've got the votes to make it happen, and they'd like to avoid the drama of the first special session, when opponents made so much noise that they drowned out action on on the bill.
"We are focusing on the bill and trying to get it passed," said Kyleen Wright, of Mansfield, president of the Texans for Life Coalition. "We have a plan and are going to follow it."
A chaotic night
It was in the waning moments of the first special session on June 25 that chaos erupted when senators tried to take a last-minute vote after ending a filibuster by Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth. Many in the gallery drowned out senators' voices, preventing them from knowing whether they had voted for the measure.
Hours after the session expired, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst said votes cast came after midnight and were not valid.
Gov. Rick Perry called lawmakers back to work to address the issue, as well as two other measures that died: transportation funding and sentencing guidelines for 17-year-olds convicted of capital murder.
Empowered by the success of already preventing the bill from passing once, many opposing the bill rallied Monday, led by Davis and Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund and daughter of former Gov. Ann Richards.
"A fuse has been lit in Austin and there is growing opposition across the state to these attacks that endanger women's health and safety," Richards said. "People all across Texas are rising up to demand their voices be heard."
Supporters of the bill say they will not be drowned out, as the Texas Senate was last week.
"They packed out our State House in the last session. Over 800! Where were we?" Cylynda Caviness, former president of the Grand Prairie Republican Club, recently posted on Facebook. "Let's commit to being there on the days that this bill is passed in both the House and the Senate."
Dewhurst has called those who drowned out senators an "unruly mob" and vowed the abortion bill won't die again.
Wright was in the Senate gallery last week when those opposing the bill began yelling, cheering, shouting, even crying.
"The tension was unbelievable," she said. "It was a powder keg. Even though we
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