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Thousands of anti-abortion activists rally at Texas Capitol
AUSTIN - Gov. Rick Perry, finding biblical significance in the 40th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, assured thousands of activists at Saturday's Rally for Life at the Texas Capitol that this legislative session will build on past efforts to restrict abortion.
"The ideal world is one without abortion. Until then, we will continue to pass laws to ensure abortions are as rare as possible," Perry told a crowd.
"When God sent the flood waters, it rained for 40 days and 40 nights. Only Noah and those on his ark survived," Perry said. "When Jesus entered the desert and was tested by the devil, he fasted for 40 days, and he rejected the devil's temptations. When the Israelites went out into the wilderness, they wandered lost for 40 years
"Last week, America began its 40th year lost under the rule of Roe versus Wade," he said. "It's a tragic time for our nation's own moral wilderness."
The Republican leaders reiterated their commitment to building on laws such as those requiring a sonogram before a woman has an abortion and parental consent for a minor to have the procedure, and withholding money from Planned Parenthood clinics.
"I know this session, working together, we'll be able to cement the fact that Texas is the most pro-family, pro-life, pro-value state in America," Dewhurst declared.
Abbott said one of the state's great responsibilities is "to give every child a chance in life."
Perry reiterated his support at the really for measures to "ensure the safety of women that undergo this procedure" by holding abortion clinics to the same standards as ambulatory surgical centers, and requiring any doctor performing abortions to have admitting privileges to a hospital.
Foes slam agenda
NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, which promotes the right to abortion, said Perry and lawmakers should instead focus on preventive health, education and other services that Texans need after budget cuts made in 2011. The group said family planning clinics have closed around Texas, and noted the controversy over barring Planned Parenthood from a program that provides health screenings and contraceptives to women.
"The legislation Governor Perry referenced in his speech at the rally today has absolutely nothing to do with the health and safety of women and does nothing to reduce the need for abortions," Heather Busby, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, said in a statement. "The best way to ensure the safety of Texas women who seek abortions is to make that service accessible to them. Texans do not want to return to the days of women dying from self-induced abortions, pre-Roe v. Wade."
Church youth outing
Joe Landin, 45, of Waller, said he and his wife each year bring students to the annual rally from their Tomball church's youth group. He said it's valuable for the students to hear the mistakes others have made.
One activist spoke at the rally of the sorrow she still feels decades after having an abortion as a college student, and her subsequent work to ensure other women know they have alternatives.
"We're not perfect. We just strive to be the best we can," Landin said. "That's the message we want to bring out to our children."
Mary Ann Wolfshohl, 48, of San Antonio, attended the rally with her daughters. "It's a heavy thing to be involved in. There's a lot of sadness," Wolfshohl said.