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Controversial Texas abortion bill will pass in new session, Rick Perry vows

A day after calling for another special legislative session, Texas Gov. Rick Perry vigorously defended the failed abortion bill Thursday at the National Right to Life Convention in Dallas.

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“I thought there was really no question that he would” call the new session, James Henson, director of the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas at Austin, told The Texas Tribune. “He wasn’t going to relent on abortion legislation that he called them in to pass.” 

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Chelsea Sheasley is the Monitor's Asia Editor, overseeing regional coverage for CSMonitor.com and the weekly magazine.

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A decade ago, Perry called repeated special sessions until redistricting legislation he supported passed. Democrats initially bolted town to prevent Republicans from reaching a quorum, but the legislation passed during the third session.   

In addition to renewing the abortion debate, Perry asked lawmakers in the next special session to pass two pieces of legislation that also failed with Davis's filibuster: funding for major transportation projects statewide and new, stricter sentencing guidelines for 17-year-olds in capital murder cases. Democrats say they are not opposed to those measures.

During the special session, the entire process starts over, with lawmakers filing the bills that then undergo public hearings before being passed out of committee. Only then can they be considered by both chambers.

But legislators would be able to move the bills quickly, state Rep. Phil King (R) told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

“All three of those bills ... are ready to go,” Representative King said. “We can pass them out of the committees very quickly. We just need to start over where we won’t be up against a quick deadline.” 

Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and daughter of the late Texas Gov. Ann Richards, said in a statement Wednesday: "While [Tuesday] was a great victory, we knew the fight was not over. And it's a fight we will win. The nation is watching and we will defeat this again." 

Supporters are expected to draft a measure similar to the one that nearly passed this week, which sought a statewide ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. The legislation also would have required abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles and mandated clinics that perform abortions to upgrade their facilities to be classified as ambulatory surgical centers. 

Defenders of the bill argue that it would strengthen women’s health, while opponents say it would effectively close 37 of 42 clinics in the state and make it difficult for most women to have the procedure done legally.

 Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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