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Wednesday, July 10, 2013 - 1:20am
El Paso, TX (KDBC) — On Tuesday night, lawmakers in Austin tentatively approved a controversial abortion bill that's been the center of national attention.
After an almost 10 hour standoff between supporters, opponents, and protests across the state, a controversial abortion bill will most likely move forward to the Texas State Senate.
"It's not entirely surprising. It was a pretty much party-line vote," said State Rep. Naomi Gonzalez.
House lawmakers passed HB 2 by a 98 to 49 vote.
If it passes in the Senate, women would not be able to have an abortion after 20 weeks of being pregnant. At the moment, women can terminate a pregnancy up until 24 weeks.
All abortions would also have to be perfomed in a surgical center, not an ordinary clinic, no further than 30 miles from a hospital.
In El Paso, two clinics would shut down.
"Women, for example, in Far West Texas, El Paso, rural areas, the Rio Grande Valley, would now have to travel to places like San Antonio, Dallas, or Houston," said Gonzalez.
Supporters argue the regulations improve the quality of health care for women.
"More women die during childbirth than they do having then they do having an abortion procedure," insisted Gonzalez.
Gonzalez joined colleagues in Austin on Tuesday, and said 14 amendments that were proposed to the bill were all shot down -- including exceptions for rape and incest victims, and providing sexual education in schools to curb unwanted pregnancies.
"Some of the more common sense amendments would be to have the exceptions for rape and incest," she said.
Nevertheless, Gonzalez remains 'cautiously optimistic.'
"Once it leaves the House, it can take on a life of its own," she said.
Lawmakers will reconvene Wednesday morning for a final approval of the bill.