AUSTIN, TX (KLTV) - Wednesday morning, Texas House of Representatives passed legislation that would tighten the rules for doctors and clinics providing abortions in the state. Now, the senate will give the bill a look to decide if they, too, feel it should be signed into law.
For weeks, many Texans have been very vocal about their opinions on this controversial legislation. Yesterday, nearly 300 pro-life Tyler residents went to the capitol themselves.
I spoke with East Texas representatives on the house floor right after today's final vote. They said passing this legislation was just the beginning of what is going to be a long nationwide discussion about abortion.
Legislators were called back into the house chamber at ten this morning. Their meeting for the final vote was merely a formality, but that didn't stop those against the bill from starting a debate in hopes of amending it. After an hour, debate ended, no amendments were made, and legislators cast their votes.
One woman was dragged out of the capitol by troopers, others were escorted out.
Heightened security has become the norm all over the capitol grounds. East Texas Representative Bryan Hughes said the bill that passed today is the most important he's worked on.
"We deeply respect the woman's right to control her own body, but we also recognize that with the little unborn child, inside her, that's another human body and we have to love both and respect both," Hughes said. "I and many others believe that the state of Texas does have a duty, a responsibility, to protect that person who has not yet been born, who cannot speak for his or herself," he said.
Representative Matt Schaefer says the issue of abortion is something society will continue to grapple with--- but he says the hundreds of East Texans who traveled to the capitol and even those who didn't-- played an important role in the political process.
"To the East Texans that posted Facebook messages, that sent emails, that came to the capitol, your voice was heard-- it mattered. Leadership in Austin saw that. The people of Texas saw that," Schaefer said.
Public involvement at the capitol has been nonstop for about three weeks now. Even after the final vote, the opposition continues to protect outside and rallying the hallways.
But not everyone with a message considered themselves protestors.
Seth Capps of Carthage and other East Texans saw the crowds at the capitol as an opportunity for their ministry.
"God loves those children more than we could ever imagine; that's why we're preaching the gospel," Capps said.
He says they'd rather not be shouting, because to many they sound angry, but their amps and microphones aren't allowed on the capitol grounds.
"More than anything else, we're just out here to share the Gospel of Christ."
Thousands of people have come to the capitol to play their own role in the debate of this specific bill, and there's no doubt that regardless of what happens to the bill next, many voices have been heard.