AUSTIN — The Texas Senate late Friday gave final approval to sweeping abortion restrictions to send the proposal to the governor.
The votes followed an hourslong debate and weeks of protests that drew thousands to the Capitol and made Texas the focus of the national abortion debate.
Republicans used their majority to pass the bill, and Republican Gov. Rick Perry has said he will sign it. But Democrats sought to soften it and enter into the legislative record material that could help in a court battle.
Democrats called the GOP proposal unnecessary and unconstitutional. Republicans said the measure was about protecting women and unborn children.
The Senate’s debate took place between a packed gallery of demonstrators, with anti-abortion activists wearing blue and abortion-rights supporters wearing orange. Security was tight, and state troopers reported confiscating bottles of urine and feces as they worked to prevent another attempt to stop the Republican majority from passing a proposal that has put Texas at the center of the nation’s abortion debate.
After hours of debate, senators gave closing remarks. Sen. Wendy Davis, whose filibuster helped derail the same bill weeks ago, was the last to speak for the Democrats. The Senate’s leader, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, then allowed two Republicans to speak before voting began.
Earlier, four women who tried to chain themselves to a railing in the gallery were arrested. One woman was successful in chaining herself, prompting a 10-minute recess.
When debate resumed, protesters began loudly singing, “Give choice a chance.” Dewhurst told officers to remove them.
Outside the chamber, the crowd grew so loud that troopers were being issued orange earplugs. Protesters were shouting, “Shame! Shame! Shame!” as senators gave closing statements.