North Texas Daily

Texas Democrats successfully block abortion bill

Texas Democrats successfully block abortion bill

Photo courtesy Texas Observer

Texas Democrats successfully block abortion bill
June 26
11:30 2013

James Rambin / Executive Editor

On Tuesday morning, Wendy Davis stood at her desk in the Senate chamber of the Texas State Legislature and began speaking. Once she rose to her feet, she wouldn’t sit again for nearly 13 hours.

From 11:18 a.m. to approximately 10:30 p.m., Davis, a Democratic state senator hailing from Fort Worth, delivered a filibuster in a special session of the Texas Legislature intended to block the passage of Senate Bill 5, a proposal that would place new restrictions on abortion clinics in the state and prohibit abortions from being carried out after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

The legislature’s deadline to vote on the bill before the end of the special session was 12 a.m., and Davis intended to stall the vote up to this deadline, preventing a vote and blocking SB5 from passing. But 90 minutes before midnight, Republican lawmakers accused the senator of speaking off-topic, a violation of legislative rules, and successfully shut down her filibuster. Once Davis was removed, Democrats began contesting the validity of her rule violations, delaying proceedings further toward the deadline.

As midnight approached, more than 400 protestors inside the chamber and hundreds more lining the walls of the capitol rotunda began shouting and cheering, stalling the vote for the final 15 minutes. Although a vote was finally held, further review determined that since a final tally could not be sealed until three minutes after the deadline, the bill remains dead for the time being.

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst officially declared the vote invalid at about 3 a.m., telling the audience that “It’s been fun, but, uh, see you soon,” implying that the battle over SB5 may not yet be over. Dewhurst later told reporters that protestors of the bill were “An angry mob using Occupy Wall Street tactics” to derail the vote.

Despite the filibuster’s success, lawmakers pointed out that Gov. Rick Perry still holds the right to call another special session for the express purpose of passing the bill, and many expect him to do so. Still, Texas Democrats are hopeful that last night’s drama will bring publicity to their fight against a bill they see as overly restrictive. More than six hours after the vote was dismissed, #SB5 continues to trend on Twitter.

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