Dubbing it a “people’s filibuster,” an unprecedented slew of Texans signed up to voice their opinion to a House Committee on legislation that would stiffen abortion regulations. Hundreds of citizens lined up to testify at the the meeting, which started Thursday evening and lasted until the early morning hours of Friday.
The House State Affairs Committee took up the bills after the Senate passed the same measures on Tuesday. Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst said it was part of his commitment to stop abortions in Texas.
The proposed measures would ban abortions after 20 weeks, while the current limit is 24 weeks. Texas would also require abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles, and only allow abortions in surgical facilities.
"Hundreds of people have committed to coming out today to testify," Heather Busby with NARAL Pro-Choice Texas said. "We'll just keep getting up, three minutes at a time, as long as it takes."
Abortion rights activists say the proposed rules would shut down 90 percent of the abortion clinics in Texas.
"I understand people have really strong feelings about this, but I have equally strong feelings that people shouldn't be forced to give birth to children they don't want," Guli Fager with Lilith Fund said.
While many came to counter conservative legislators, those in favor of the new mandates also testified.
"These women are talking about only themselves, and nobody is talking about the murder of these innocent babies," one anti-abortion activist said.
Under the legislation passed in the House is what's known as the “fetal pain bill,” which limits when a woman can get an abortion due to when a fetus can feel pain.
"Studies do show that a baby at that stage of development does feel the pain, so my thinking, my feeling is, then the state has a compelling interest to protect the safety and welfare of the developing baby at that stage," Republican Sen. Jodie Laubenberg said.
The special session is slated to come to a close at midnight June 25.
Lawmakers are expected to continue the debate on these abortion regulations until then.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.