Last night, Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis attempted a 13-hour filibuster to block the passage of SB5, which would have made abortion illegal after 20 weeks and establish stringent requirements for abortion facilities that would have shut down most of the facilities in the state. For ten hours and 45 minutes, she read testimony from doctors and women in Texas and around the country who would be affected by SB5 and bills like it, until she was stopped by the chairman at 10:00 p.m. for, he said, straying off topic by discussing mandatory ultrasounds, which aren’t addressed in the bill. Democratic state senators protested the ruling until Republican lawmakers attempted a roll-call vote 15 minutes before the deadline.
State Sen. Leticia Van De Putte protested the silencing of her female colleagues by the legislature’s leadership, asking, “At what point must a female senator raise her hand or her voice to be recognized over her male colleagues?” The cheers of protesters in the gallery delayed the completion of the vote until after the deadline had passed.
Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis tried Tuesday to block the abortion bill by attempting a 13-hour filibuster, but fell short by about three hours when the chairman ruled she had gone off topic.
The packed gallery of the session erupted in boos. And for 15 minutes — as the clock ticked toward 12 a.m. — their raucous chants and shouts of “Shame, shame, shame” drowned out the proceedings.
Although it wasn’t immediately apparent to onlookers, the disruption prevented lawmakers from completing their vote by the official end of the session — killing the bill.
“There were attempts to shove every rule aside in order to try to cram this vote through, and the voices of the people who were in the Capitol gallery tonight could not be silenced, and it simply didn’t allow the vote to be taken in time,” Davis said early Wednesday.
While SB5 did pass 19-10, it did so at 12:03 a.m. Wednesday morning. Lieutenant Gov. David Dewhurst insisted that the bill passed before the deadline but that he was prevented from signing it because of “all the ruckus and noise going on” from the “unruly mob” in the chamber.
Last Thursday, an attempted “people’s filibuster” packed the Capitol with 700 people registered to testify against the bill in front of the House State Affairs Committee. It was shut down after seven hours by committee Chair Rep. Byron Cook, who declared the testimony “repetitive” and said he would hear just one more hours of testimony, depriving hundreds of Texans of their right to address their legislators. RH Reality Check has published the testimony of several Texans who weren’t allowed to speak.
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