Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) on Thursday morning signed into law one of the nation's strictest abortion-restricting bills.
The bill was the subject of considerable debate and protests in recent weeks, with state Sen. Wendy Davis (D) creating national headlines by successfully filibustering it for about 11 hours.
After Davis's successful delaying tactic, Perry called another special session of the state legislature to pass the bill.
"This is an important day for those who support life and for those who support the health of Texas women," Perry said. "In signing House Bill 2 today, we celebrate and further cement the foundation on which the culture of life in Texas is built."
The bill bans abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy -- similar to a bill passed recently in the U.S. House -- and forces abortion providers to have hospital-admitting privileges, among other requirements.
Supporters say the law comes in response to new findings about when a fetus is viable and can feel pain. They also say it ensures safe procedures. Opponents say it violated women's rights and constitutes an effort to shut down abortion providers. Just five of the state's 42 abortion providers currently meet the new criteria, according to the Associated Press.
Anti-abortion rights activists praised Perry for pushing forward with the legislation in the face of the protests.
"We applaud the brave state leaders -- including Governor Perry -- who refuse to back down from defending human dignity, even in the face of intense pressure and harassment," said Tony Perkins, head of the Christian conservative Family Research Council.
Pro-abortion rights groups quickly pledged to fight the new law in court.
“The bill signed into law by Governor Perry today makes a terrible situation for women’s health even worse," said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood. "Already, Rick Perry and other politicians have cut more than 130,000 Texas women off from basic preventive health care, including lifesaving cancer screenings and well-woman check-ups, and this new law will severely limit access to safe and legal abortion, which will cause women to resort to desperate and dangerous measures."
Texas follows in the footsteps of several other Republican-controlled state legislatures in passing the new restrictions. GOP-controlled swing states North Carolina, Ohio and Wisconsin have also moved forward with new abortion restrictions in recent weeks.