AUSTIN (July 12, 2013)—After hundreds of protesters in the state Senate gallery disrupted an attempt to vote on a controversial abortion measure in the final minutes of the first special session on June 25, officials were taking no chances Friday as senators prepared to debate the measure again.
Department of Public Safety troopers on the Capitol security detail were searching the bags of all individuals attempting to enter the Senate gallery as hundreds of activists on both sides of the issue gathered again Friday.
DPS recommended the inspections and the Senate approved them, officials said.
By Friday evening troopers had discovered one jar containing suspected urine, 18 jars of suspected feces, three bottles of suspected paint, tampons, glitter, and confetti, the DPS said.
State Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, the leader of the Senate’s Democrats, said he intervened, however, to keep state troopers from confiscating feminine hygiene products from women who wanted to watch the debate.
Watson called it a "boneheaded" and "crazy" decision to confiscate tampons as state troopers sought to take away items that could be thrown from the gallery.
Watson said he was assured that the practice would stop.
The Senate had rules in place, too, Friday.
The Senate sergeant-at-arms was handing out a copy of the rules to each spectator who entered the gallery.
Spectators were barred from carrying or attaching to walls, rails, seats or banisters any posters, placards, banners, signs or similar material.
Applause “or demonstrating in any way” was also banned.
The rules specified that any spectator who engaged in "disrespectful or disorderly conduct" or who otherwise obstructed a Senate proceeding could be imprisoned for 48 hours under provisions of the Texas Constitution.
The measure would require abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital, require abortions take place in surgical centers, and ban abortions after 20 weeks.
Democrats acknowledged they have no chance of derailing the measure and vowed to fight it in court.