Wendy Davis and supporters shout down Texas abortion bill

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.

[h/t to and more coverage at Feministing, Shakesville, and thanks to commenter SophiaBlue]

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19 comments for “Wendy Davis and supporters shout down Texas abortion bill

  1. GallingGalla
    June 26, 2013 at 12:45 pm

    What a relief. But I fear the reprieve will be temporary – Republicans will give it another shot, will be successful in shutting down a filibuster with their arcane rules, and there will be a heavier police presence in the galleries preventing protestors from having their say.

    • Anon21
      June 26, 2013 at 1:06 pm

      Yeah, Republicans have an iron grip on Texas state politics, and this is a priority for them. Hard to see how abortion-rights supporters can hold them off for the rest of the year.

      But even assuming the bill passes at some point, I hope Senator Davis’s courageous filibuster, the protesters’ righteous outrage, and the spectacle of the Senate Republicans blatantly ignoring their body’s rules in an effort to push the bill through has added political costs to the GOP’s misogyny.

      • Ledasmom
        June 26, 2013 at 2:30 pm

        Well, they could leave the state. That is a fairly extreme tactic, though.

      • Clytemnestra's Sister
        June 27, 2013 at 6:19 am

        And go where, precisely?

        I live in Texas. My family lives in Texas. The city where I’m living is actually really cool and there’s a lot of wonderful stuff going on there. I have a really good job there, good friends there, a horse who keeps me fit and a theatre whose management lets me build sets and my internal thermostat is such that I don’t ever want to live north of I-10 ever again. When bullexcrement like this happens, I can mourn it, I can fume quietly, or I can do like what happened last week and get up on my hind legs and fight about it.

        And I’m one of the ones who has the resources to pack up and move. I have a career field that gives me options out side the state. I am single and childfree so I have no other obligations there.

        So no, moving really isn’t an option, not now anyway. Believe me, I’ve thought about it.

      • Past my expiration date
        June 27, 2013 at 6:58 am

        I assumed that Ledasmom was referring to abortion rights supporters in the Texas legislature leaving the state, so that there wouldn’t be a quorum…?

      • emily
        June 27, 2013 at 7:11 am

        I don’t mean to be picking on you because I don’t think you really mean it, but the “move” argument is beginning to bother me. Yes, obviously, some state are more hostile to certain rights than others. And because we live in a large and diverse nation, a lot of people can move to a place where the laws more closely match our beliefs.

        But we shouldn’t have to.

        The Constitution is supposed to grant everyone a baseline of certain rights and freedoms. Certain things are supposed to be the same all over the country. Moving out of a state because the state has decided that these freedoms don’t apply seems to offer tacit endorsement to the idea that the states have the authority to override the Constitution.

        Don’t get me wrong. I’m a Jew. If my family hadn’t left Eastern Europe, well, I may not be here to pick on you. I understand that sometimes moving may be the best option. I just don’t want to see us give up on our country yet.

        But of course, everyone’s mileage may vary. I also can’t blame someone who is using the moving option.

      • Lolagirl
        June 27, 2013 at 7:47 am

        I also read Ledasmom to be referring to Dems decamping to OK (as was done in past sessions) to avoid the reaching of a quorum.

        But I do agree that asking Texan Dems and moderates why they don’t move away is unhelpful and tiresome. Ceding ground to extremists does not make them go away, and only serves to embolden them further.

      • Ledasmom
        June 27, 2013 at 10:32 am

        Yes, I was thinking of the Texas Eleven. Eleven senators not showing up is enough to break the quorum, and if they are out of state they (probably) cannot be compelled to come in.

      • Liz
        July 2, 2013 at 2:02 pm

        I know this is like a week late, but I just wanted to mention that the rules for a special session are different and you dont have to have a quorum like Lolagirl and Past My Expiration Date have mentioned. The legislation passes with a majority of votes from whoever shows up to the session.

  2. SophiaBlue
    June 26, 2013 at 1:36 pm

    Just to show what shitheads the Texas Republicans are, they had to get three strikes against Wendy Davis to stop her filibuster. The second strike they called against her was for having someone help adjust her back brace!

    • White Rabbit
      June 26, 2013 at 1:44 pm

      I was enraged by that. Unless they were misapplying them yesterday, their filibuster rules are mind-bogglingly ableist.

  3. Grace
    June 26, 2013 at 6:42 pm

    I watched from Canada since about 3 pm yesterday, and the whole thing just made me shake my head. I also followed it on twitter, and was just thrilled with all the support that she received. And yet there were still a bunch of misinformed people telling me that I was should change my mind and stop supporting the murder of babies. I even had one compare abortion to the holocaust *sigh*
    The worst part is that Rick Perry (I think that’s his name?) is probably going to call another special senate. Do these rich old Republicans have nothing better to do with their time (and the taxpayers money)?

  4. June 26, 2013 at 8:35 pm

    …aaaand it was all for nought. Perry has just called another special session

    Texas Gov. Rick Perry announced late Wednesday he was calling a special session of the Legislature on July 1 to take up three unresolved issues — including abortion. “Texans value life and want to protect women and the unborn,” he said in a statement. “We will not allow the breakdown of decorum and decency to prevent us from doing what the people of this state hired us to do.”


    • GraceGrace
      June 28, 2013 at 3:21 am

      I just loooooove how he says that he’s doing this because it’s what the people want. I saw a figure of something like 80% of Texans don’t agree with him. So who is he really speaking for? And someone said it costs about $27,000 a day to hold a special session. Are you f***ing kidding me?! Is your power-hungry grasp over women really THAT important, Rick Perry?’

  5. June 27, 2013 at 12:14 am

    Stephanie Zvan at Almost Diamonds wrote a post focussing on the protestors: Screaming.

  6. xenu01
    June 27, 2013 at 12:28 pm

    Ugh ugh UGH on the condescendingly sexist nature of the coverage.
    Here is an article that is so sexist it sounds like a parody (from my local paper, the SF Chronicle):
    Filibuster makes ex-Texas teen mom a national star

    The first two paragraphs(bolding mine):
    As she spoke late into the night railing against proposed abortion restrictions, a former Texas teen mom catapulted from little-known junior state senator to national political superstar in pink running shoes.

    Wendy Davis needed last-minute help from shrieking supporters to run out the clock on the special session of the state Legislature and kill the contentious and sweeping bill, but her old-fashioned filibuster earned her widespread praise from fellow abortion-rights supporters — including a salute from President Barack Obama.

  7. June 27, 2013 at 6:40 pm

    I was there. I saw it go down.

    It was history, folks.

    I encourage all of you living in Texas to call Gov. Perry’s office at (512) 463-2000 and voice your dissent. Let him know that you do not support a special session. Let your state representative and senator know as well. Your vote matters. Your campaign contributions matter, too. I have been making donations to legislators out of my district that are opposed to this abhorrent bill and plan to *really* amp it up come re-election time.

    You think this week was something special? You haven’t seen anything yet. We are just gearing up. We, the people of Texas.

    • (BFing) Sarah
      June 30, 2013 at 11:02 pm

      Good for you! Sen. Davis and Sen. Van De Putte and the people of Texas are so inspirational for fighting back like this!

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