AUSTIN, Texas — Texas senators were wrapping up debate on sweeping abortion restrictions Friday night and were poised to vote on a measure after weeks of protests.
Republicans were expected to pass the bill. But Democrats had sought to soften it and enter into the legislative record material that could help in a court battle.
Democrats have called the sweeping GOP proposal unnecessary and unconstitutional.
The Senate's debate took place between a packed gallery of demonstrators, with anti-abortion activists wearing blue and abortion-rights supporters wearing orange. Security was tight, and state troopers reported confiscating bottles of urine and feces as they worked to prevent another attempt to stop the Republican majority from passing a proposal that has put Texas at the center of the nation's abortion debate.
Four women who tried to chain themselves to a railing in the gallery were arrested. One woman was successful in chaining herself, prompting a 10-minute recess.
When debate resumed, protesters began loudly singing, "Give choice a chance." The Senate's leader, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, told officers to remove them.
Outside the chamber, the crowd grew so loud that troopers were being issued orange earplugs. Protesters were shouting, "Shame! Shame! Shame!" as senators gave their closing statements.
The Senate's approval would send the bill to Republican Gov. Rick Perry, who has said he will sign it.
The circus-like atmosphere in the Texas Capitol marked the culmination of weeks of protests, the most dramatic of which came June 25 in the final minutes of the last special legislative session, when a Democratic filibuster and subsequent protest prevented the bill from becoming law.
House Bill 2 would require doctors to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, allow abortions only in surgical centers, limit where and when women may take abortion-inducing pills and ban abortions after 20 weeks. Only five out of 42 existing abortion clinics meet the requirements to be a surgical center, and clinic owners say they can't afford to upgrade or relocate.