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The Boston Globe

Politics

Abortion bill sent to Texas governor

AUSTIN, Texas — The Texas Senate has passed tough new abortion restrictions, sending them to Governor Rick Perry to sign into law.

The vote came after weeks of protests and rallies drew thousands to the Capitol and made Texas the focus of the national abortion debate.

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Republicans used their majority to pass the bill nearly three weeks after a filibuster by Senator Wendy Davis, a Democrat, and an outburst by abortion-rights supporters in the Senate gallery disrupted a deadline vote.

Called back for a new special session, lawmakers took up the bill again as supporters and opponents held rallies and jammed the Capitol to testify at hearings.

The bill requires doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, allows abortions only at surgical centers, and bans abortions after 20 weeks.

A protest briefly halted debate Friday night.

Four women tried to chain themselves to a railing as senators were about to start closing statements . One of the women succeeded . Officers arrested all four women.

Republicans were expected to pass the sweeping bill, with Democrats left to do little more than enter into the legislative record material that could help defeat it in federal court. Democrats have called the sweeping GOP proposal unnecessary and unconstitutional.

Perry, a Republican, has said he will sign the bill.

The circuslike atmosphere in the Texas Capitol marked the culmination of weeks of protests, the most dramatic of which came June 25 in the final minutes of the last special legislative session, when a Democratic filibuster and subsequent protest prevented the bill from becoming law.

Only five out of 42 existing abortion clinics meet the requirements to be a surgical center, and clinic owners say they cannot afford to upgrade or relocate.

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