AUSTIN, Texas – Despite a filibuster by state Sen. Wendy Davis and the efforts of thousands of protesters, Republicans in the Texas House of Representatives voted early on Wednesday to proceed with a restrictive anti-abortion bill. In addition to imposing stringent regulations that would close the vast majority of abortion providers in the state and deny women access to vital healthcare services, the bill also includes a previously overlooked provision that shortens the amount of time a woman is legally permitted to be pregnant to a scant six days.
Texas Governor Rick Perry quickly stepped up to defend the clause, which strictly outlaws any pregnancy that lasts longer than a quarter of a day. “Since all humans have a right to life, we’ve got to get the most vulnerable humans out in the open where we can all see them as quickly as possible — before women have time to pull any funny business,” he said.
Perry, who added the anti-abortion bill to the roster of two consecutive special sessions after it failed to pass with the necessary supermajority in the regular session, insisted that Republicans strove to make the bill the most “pro-life” document possible. “To ensure that the unborn child is safe, legally requiring women to grow and deliver it within six days is more than reasonable,” Perry argued. “I mean, how are we supposed to know the baby’s even in there, if we can’t see it for a whole nine months? What if the mother’s hiding it somewhere else, like between two yogurt containers, or in a mailbox?”
Now that Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst has done away with the supermajority requirement and public hearings have been shut down prematurely in favor of closed-door meetings, the bill seems almost certain to pass.
The impetus for the anti-abortion bill rests in large part on the medically dubious claim that the nervous system of fetuses sufficiently resembles that of fully-grown adults. “We’ve gotten some of the most [mumbling] doctors in the country to testify that, starting at six days, embryos can feel pain, ambition, happiness, nostalgia, melancholy, pity, surprise, courage, vanity, admiration, shame and hope, in varying combinations and intensities,” said House State Affairs Chairman Byron Cook. “Is that enough emotions? We can always add more. We pay these guys by the days.”
In an attempt to further legitimate the bill, Texas Republicans have begun citing reports that contradict the well-established wisdom that the 24th week of pregnancy marks a turning point for fetal viability outside the womb. At a mere six days, they claim, an embryo can survive outside the womb, and also at the bottom of the ocean, in the caldera of an erupting volcano, and in the implacable void of deep space.
The Texas Medical Association and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have voiced serious objections to the bill and the validity of the science used to support it. The organizations issued a joint statement on Thursday asserting that, as Rick Perry’s existence demonstrates, some fetuses are incapable of basic cognition even as late as the 190th trimester.