The Big Conversation:
Gov. Rick Perry on Tuesday opened the latest front in what's likely to become the biggest abortion battle in Texas next year.
Perry, speaking a crisis pregnancy center in Houston, said he would support a bill that would ban abortion in Texas after 20 weeks.
"Let me be clear," Perry said. "My goal and the goal of many of those joining me here today is to make abortion at any stage a thing of the past."
The measure, dubbed the "fetal pain" bill, is based on the research of some scientists claiming that fetuses can feel pain at the 20th week of development. The anti-abortion group Texas Right to Life has pushed the measure, though a bill has yet to be filed.
Abortion rights activists slammed the measure as abortion opponents' latest attempt at denying women access to health care.
"Every pregnancy is different. No politician can possibly decide what is best for a woman and her family in every circumstance," Heather Busby, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, said in a statement. "It is especially outrageous to take options away from women who could be in tragic situations."
After the passage of an abortion sonogram law in 2011, the fetal-pain bill represents anti-abortion activists' latest hope for legislative victory in Texas. Perry said Tuesday that he would also support measures related to abortion facility quality standards and emergency room access for women who experience complications after receiving an abortion.
The Legislature next year may also take up measures targeting abortion-inducing drugs and Planned Parenthood, which on Tuesday announced that it had filed another lawsuit against the state over the group's exclusion from the state's Women's Health Program.
- Bill Gimson, the head of the embattled Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas, announced his resignation on Tuesday amid an investigation into an $11 million grant the agency awarded in 2010 without proper review. The cancer-fighting agency, which is under investigation by the Texas attorney general and the Travis County district attorney's office, has faced intense scrutiny in recent months over allegations that politics have tainted its award-granting process. "The last 8 months have been extremely difficult for those at CPRIT," Gimson wrote in a letter explaining his departure. “During this time they have not been able to do their jobs due to wasted efforts expended in low-value activities that do nothing to advance cures for cancer."
- Two Texas charter school systems have each secured almost $30 million in federal Race to the Top money, the U.S. Education Department announced Tuesday. The two systems, IDEA Public Schools and Harmony Science Academy, were among the 16 districts and networks nationwide to receive grants as part of the Obama administration's signature education initiative, which is intended to incentivize education reform.
- U.S. Sen.-elect Tim Kaine, D-Va., says he's prepared to vote for a comprehensive immigration reform plan that includes a fine illegal immigrants could pay in exchange for legal status. "I think the elements of that deal are acceptable to most of the parties that are around the table right now,” Kaine told The New York Times. “I’m expecting and I’m anxious to get in and be a vote for comprehensive immigration reform.”
"I'm telling you, Barack Hussein Obama has got to have a teleprompter because he fried his brain on drugs." — Cathie Adams, president of the Texas Eagle Forum and former chairwoman of the Texas Republican Party, speaking at a conservative event earlier this year
- Pregnant? Scared? Can They Help?, The Texas Observer
- Armstrong resisted subpoena, then wanted secrecy, The Associated Press
- U.S. Seizes Texas Condo It Says Owned by Former Mexican Governor, Reuters
- Hoping to discourage car trips downtown, Austin may drop parking requirement, Austin American-Statesman