Texas' Republican-controlled senate has passed a new abortion restriction bill that would ban pregnancy terminations after 20 weeks, a move Democrats have vowed to fight tooth and nail.
Republicans say the bill will protect the health of women and babies, but Democrats say it amounts to an attempt to introduce a ban on abortion by stealth and the party has vowed to fight it in the courts.
The bill would also require abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital and require that all abortions take place in surgical centres. Opponents of the law say it will be difficult for most abortion clinics to comply.
Texas is the thirteenth US state in recent years to adopt strict abortion legislation and the state’s governor, Rick Perry, said that, with this final passage of the legislation, he would make it his top priority to sign the bill into law.
The pink granite statehouse was packed on Friday, with Texans opposed to the bill wearing orange and holding signs that said, "My body, my choice," some of them jumping, chanting and loudly shouting outside the Senate chamber.
Those supporting the bill wore blue, some carrying Bibles and crosses and holding signs that said things like, "Unborn
babies feel pain".
On Thursday, former Republican presidential candidate, Rick Santorum, criticised those opposed to the law.
"The truth is the extreme party on this issue are the folks standing up here saying women don't deserve basic, sanitary standards when it comes to abortion clinics," Santorum said.
"And children who would otherwise be born alive are not entitled to any protection. So this is an important moment for everyone to recognise where the abortion debate really is in US today."
But abortion rights activist say supporters are wrong to think it will reduce abortion numbers.
"All this will do is reduce the number of safe and legal abortions. Women will get abortions one way or another," Julianna Gonen of the Center for Reproductive Rights in Washington told Al Jazeera.
"We need to make sure they have access to safe, legal, medical care."
Source: Al Jazeera and agencies