Caught by surprise, abortion opponents mobilize their own protest rally

Posted Saturday, Jul. 06, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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kennedy Predicting a Texas Democrats’ comeback is always like forecasting snow in Austin:

Don’t believe it until you see it.

A chill has gone through the Texas Capitol lately, though, and church-based Republican activists will go down this week to check the heat.

By the time Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and governor-in-waiting Greg Abbott speak to a Capitol rally Monday night, they’ll know Gov. Rick Perry’s re-election plans and which office might be theirs if they pass new abortion restrictions.

Democrats all but blew the dome off the Capitol with indignation over what they view as a rollback of the 14th Amendment legal right to end a pregnancy. But that also woke up Republican activists driven by faith to argue for life.

“It’s difficult to get people’s attention in June and July, but we have everybody’s attention now,” said Mansfield Republican Kyleen Wright, president of the Texans for Life Coalition and a constituent of state Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth.

Republican anti-abortion activists didn’t turn out heavily for the first special session of the Legislature, because they didn’t anticipate a Democratic rally for female voters and online viewers.

Now, “I think people are energized over the way the Democrats subverted the process,” Wright said.

“We have a system in place. You vote for people on Election Day. Clearly, more pro-lifers have turned out to vote.”

Wright’s group will be among those at the rally Monday, organized by Christian author Beverly LaHaye’s Washington-based Conservative Women for America. It features former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, the Rev. Robert Jeffress of First Baptist Dallas and TLC network stars Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar.

Emails from the Houston-based Texas Pastors Council rally ministers to Austin to “lead the army from the front on this battle” against an “extreme leftist national cabal.” A video from last week is stirring satanic panic, showing young opponents of abortion restrictions taunting supporters with the chant “Hail Satan.”

(Personally, the satanists don’t worry me as much as the secessionists.)

Rep. Phil King, R-Weatherford, is in his 14th year as one of the Legislature’s steadiest voices against abortion.

“We all got caught off-guard,” he said.

“But what we’re seeing now is a whole new, young generation that might not agree down the line on every [social] issue, but they agree that when a pregnancy is at 5 months — that’s a baby.”

According to a poll by the online Texas Tribune, the new 20-week limit is the most popular change in the bill. But the bill also restricts doctors to working only in abortion clinics within 30 miles of a hospital where they have admitting privileges, limiting both locations and provider availability.

The Texas Medical Association is lukewarm on the proposal. No matter.

Within the week, as King said, “We’ve got the votes and we’re going to pass the bill.”

This is how it works in Texas.

Bud Kennedy’s column appears Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays. 817-390-7538 Twitter: @BudKennedy Get alerts at

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