The Texas Senate pushed through a severe anti-abortion bill Friday evening, bringing one of the country's most drastic attacks on reproductive rights within inches of being signed into law.
The bill advanced despite thousands of pro-choice advocates who packed the capitol Friday to oppose the measures.
"Thousands upon thousands of people screamed their faces off for hours and hours filling the capitol building to the brim," Hallie Boas—organizer with Rise Up Texas—told Common Dreams.
In the immediate aftermath of the bill's passage, dozens of protesters refused to leave the Senate chambers in a peaceful show of civil disobedience. Their statement declared:
We are here to announce that the State of Texas, with the passage of HB2 [anti-abortion bill], is a now a danger zone for women, the poor, the working class, people of color, immigrants, queer and trans communities, women with disabilities, rural and border communities and those most impacted by lack of access to safe, affordable reproductive healthcare.
The Senate called in police who wielded tasers against the protesters and arrested at least two. "We are outraged by the use of unnecessary violence and force by the police,' says Boas.
After the bill cleared the republican-controlled Senate, it will next head to the desk of Governor Rick Perry, who is expected to enthusiastically sign the legislation.
The sweeping measure—a cocktail of several previous abortion bills—would ban the procedure after 20 weeks, impose prohibitive restrictions on abortion providers, and require that abortions only be provided at surgical centers. Pro-choice advocates explain that the bill would shutter 37 of the state's 42 abortion clinics.
The fight to save reproductive rights in Texas has galvanized the state and mobilized pro-choice groups and community organizations across the US, as several other state governments levy similar attacks.
Texas Democrat Wendy Davis captured international attention in late June when she launched an 11 hour filibuster which, with the help of thousands protesting in the capitol, blocked an earlier iteration of the bill.
Yet, Perry called a new 'special session' after the pro-choice victory in late June, allowing him to work with legislators to push forward the bill despite steep public opposition.
The bill's opponents vow that the fight for reproductive rights in Texas has only just begun. "Texas is Radicalized," said Boas. "My heart felt like it was about to explode as thousands came together in a beautiful display of solidarity and people power."
"A reproductive justice movement has been born," she added. "Texas is fighting back and will not be silenced."