Texas Abortion Battle About to Get Nastier

Protests over Texas abortion bill marked by chaos, confusion.

Anti-abortion activist Pamela Whitehead of Katy, Texas, argues with a pro-choice activist during the first day of hearings on House Bill 2 and Senate Bill 1 at the Texas State Capitol on July 2, 2013.
By + More

Last week, videos emerged from Texas - embroiled in a heated battle over proposed abortion restrictions - that showed abortion rights and anti-abortion activists facing off in epic fashion.

[READ: Texas Abortion Bill Fails Following 10-Hour Filibuster]

As anti-abortion protesters sang "Amazing Grace" outside the statehouse in Austin, abortion rights activists appeared to heckle them with the chant: "Hail Satan!" Children of abortion rights activists held up provocative signs such as "Stay out of my mommy's vagina," while children of anti-abortion protesters allegedly filled out witness registration cards for their parents. Abortion rights protesters stood dressed in coat hangers, while anti-abortion activists vigorously prayed. Both sides insisted they knew what was best for the health of women in Texas.

 

And on Monday, as state legislators hold an all-day hearing on the bill containing the proposed abortion restrictions, the battle looks like it's about to get nastier.

Monday night, dueling anti-abortion and abortion rights protests are planned outside the state Capitol.

[ALSO: Wendy Davis Won't Filibuster Texas Abortion Bill in Special Session]

Abortion rights activists plan to hold a demonstration starting at the Capitol front gate at 8 p.m., while anti-abortion protesters will hold a rally on the Capitol's south steps at 7 p.m. That rally will feature speeches by Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, and "19 Kids & Counting" reality show stars Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, who will speak to members of anti-abortion groups that include the Susan B. Anthony List, Concerned Women for America, and March for Life.

The youth anti-abortion group Students for Life expects to also have dozens of protesters in attendance, having bussed activists down from Washington D.C., a 30 hour ride, on Monday, and picked up more students along the way in Nashville, Knoxville, and Memphis, Tenn., as well as Little Rock, Ark., and Dallas, Texas.

One anti-abortion group, LetTexasSpeak.com, is already out in force outside the Capitol. A live stream from the groups shows supporters gathered in a circle praying, while some have stepped forward to testify about abortions they regret. One woman recounted having gone to a Texas Planned Parenthood center as a pregnant "single mother living on Medicare, Medicaid, and living in a shack" and said the group directed her to several local abortion clinics. "They didn't give me an abortion brochure. They didn't care about me as a woman," she said, before nearly descending into tears.

[PHOTO: Ohio Governor, Flanked by 6 Men, Signs Stringent Abortion Bill Into Law]

At the abortions rights rally Monday night, "Stand and March with Texas Women," protesters are expected to make a wide loop around the Capitol but are advised on a Facebook event page "to avoid any violent or destructive action" or else risk arrest. Last week, a similar rally attracted hundreds of people, according to reports, some holding coat hangers or shouting chants such as "Who's choice?" "Our choice!"

"We've seen unprecedented numbers of people showing up. This has to do with how severe these restrictions are. So we have people coming over and over again to register their opposition," says Heather Busby from the Texas arm of NARAL Pro-Choice America, which is participating in the march.

The proposed restrictions would ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, as well as require all abortions be performed at ambulatory surgical centers and that abortion providers have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. Critics charge the restrictions could close down abortion clinics across the state.

[RELATED: Doctors Say Texas Abortion Bill Doesn't Make Sense]

The new restrictions were to become law weeks ago but were blocked by a nearly 13-hour filibuster by Democratic state Sen. Wendy Davis of Fort Worth, as well as by thousands of protesters crowding the Capitol who drowned out state senators' voting. Gov. Rick Perry, R-Texas, branded the protesters at the time as "mob rule."