Texas Gov. Rick Perry today signed into law the restrictive abortion bill that initiated State Sen. Wendy Davis' 11-hour filibuster and ignited the protests of pro-abortion rights advocates across the country.
In his remarks before signing the bill, Perry said the new law would prevent "reckless doctors' performing abortions in horrific conditions" as a part of "our continued commitment to protecting life in the state of Texas."
Abortions in Texas will be prohibited after 20 weeks of pregnancy. The law also enforces surgical center regulations on facilities that perform abortions, which critics say could shut down a majority of Texas' abortion clinics.
"That is reasonable. That is common-sense expectation for those caring for the health and safety of the people in the state of Texas," Perry said in reference to the higher safety requirements.
Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst also spoke at the event and said people who remember Perry later would consider "defense of the preborn as a key part of [his] legacy.
"We would not be here today if not for our governor," Dewhurst said.
Perry took a moment to also thank the other supporters of the bill. "All of you who stood up and made a difference, no one will ever have to ask, 'Where were you when the babies' lives were being saved?'" he said.
But the fight is not over for the bill's opponents. Shouts from pro-abortion rights protesters could be heard during the event. Outside the doors of the Texas Capitol building's auditorium where Perry signed the bill, protesters chanted, "The blood of Texas women is on your hands."
As a sign of protest, five women lay on the floor of the Capitol building. They were dressed in black, appeared to be bound and gagged, and each wore a letter spelling out the word, "shame."
State Sen. Wendy Davis, whose filibuster last month delayed the bill, responded to its signing in a statement today, saying, "Governor Perry and other state leaders have now taken sides and chosen narrow partisan special interests over mothers, daughters, sisters and every Texan who puts the health of their family, the well-being of their neighbors, and the future of Texas ahead of politics and personal ambitions."
Pro-abortion rights groups joined Davis' criticism of both the bill and the governor. "The bill signed into law by Governor Perry today makes a terrible situation for women's health even worse," said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund. "People are enraged by this law, and it has created a whole new generation of activists who are in it for the long run to elect leaders who will protect women's health."
Anti-abortion groups responded to the day's events with statements of praise for the governor. "This is a lifesaving victory for Texas women and unborn children," said Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser. "We thank Governor Perry, the pro-life legislators, and the entire statewide coalition including Texas Right to Life, Texas Alliance for Life, Concerned Women for America of Texas, 40 Days for Life, and so many others for making this happen."
Added Family Research Council President Tony Perkins: "Today we welcome Texas into the proud coalition of states moving to defend defenseless, unborn children. Under Governor Perry's leadership, the state has ensured that scientific advancement and health concerns govern the state, and not the profit margins of abortionists."
The law is set to go into effect 90 days after the end of Texas Congress' special session this month. The deadline for abortion clinics to update their facilities has been set for September 2014.