As the Texas Senate begins debating the anti-abortion bill that sparked a series of protests that garnered national attention, Republicans backing the measure drew more criticism for confiscating women’s hygiene products from attendees at the gallery in the state capitol on Friday.
The legislation, House Bill 2, is expected to be passed after debate either late Friday or early Saturday, and would ensure the closure of all but five abortion providers in the state based on revised guidelines for reproductive health facilities. The Associated Press reported that spectators would also be handed printed rules threatening those found to be “disrupting the chamber’s work” with being jailed for 48 hours.
“We’re going to have strict enforcement,” Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst (R) told the AP. “If there are any demonstrations, we are going to clear the gallery.”
As Think Progress reported, however, attendees with concealed-carry licenses were still being allowed to bring firearms into the gallery. State Rep. Jonathan Strickland (R), who said at one point he was concerned about protesters becoming violent, did not respond when asked if he was bringing his own gun to the building but told the National Review, “I very, very often do concealed-carry, I can say that.”
State Republicans’ last attempt to pass HB2 on June 25 failed after being stalled by a 13-hour filibuster by state Sen. Wendy Davis (D) and other Democrats, culminating in a 15-minute vocal protest by attendees in the gallery.