A Texas legislative committee approved a measure Thursday that would place broad new restrictions on abortions in the state, paving the way for the contentious legislation to become law.
House Bill 2 cleared the Senate Health and Human Services Committee on a 6-3 vote.
The bill will move to the full Senate floor Friday afternoon in the second attempt to pass the legislation in the Senate. The bill originally failed to pass during the previous special session because of a filibuster from Democratic Sen. Wendy Davis.
Rick Santorum, the former U.S. senator and presidential candidate, joined Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and Republican members of the Texas House and Senate on Thursday to voice support for the bill and disdain for Davis and those who would seek to block the legislation.
At a news conference, he blamed the media for lionizing Davis and accused the senator of being out of the American mainstream.
"Look at what she was defending. She was saying that women shouldn't have sanitary conditions when receiving an abortion, she was defending that children who would otherwise be born alive shouldn't have the right to be born alive."
He went on to say, "This is an important moment for everyone to recognize where the abortion debate really is in America."
For Santorum and other stalwarts of the anti-abortion movement, what's happening in Texas will reverberate around the country.
The measure seeks to ban abortions past 20 weeks of gestation, mandate abortion clinics to become ambulatory surgical centers, tighten usage guidelines for the drug RU486 and require doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the clinic at which they're providing abortion services.
Critics of the measure say it would shut down most abortion clinics in Texas -- denying access to many in rural communities -- and force women to seek dangerous back-alley abortions.
The Republican legislators who support it say the bill isn't about banning abortions, but rather about protecting women's health. For them, it is about preventing situations like what occurred at an abortion clinic in Philadelphia, in a case in which Kermit Gosnell was sentenced to life with no parole for killing babies.
However, Pastor Rick Scarborough, of Vision America, who was asked to provide opening remarks for the news conference, offered a much more succinct end goal: "This is a small, important step toward the beginning of the end of abortion in America."