Politics
5:30 am
Wed June 26, 2013

Wendy Davis Filibuster Ends; Abortion Bill Defeated (Update)

Update: It's clear this morning that the vote to pass SB 5 came too late. The filibuster by State Sen. Wendy Davis was successful. Davis took to twitter with the news:

Update (12:19 p.m.): An unprecedented outpouring of cheers and chants from onlookers in the Senate gallery drowned out voting on the floor on SB 5. But shortly after midnight the Associated Press reported Republican senators voted to approve SB 5 amid all the chaos. It's unclear when the vote took place; it's possible it occurred after midnight, as the senate president (Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst) had not adjourned the body by then.

Update (11:15 p.m.): After a third point-of-order was sustained against Sen. Wendy Davis this evening, it appeared her filibuster was over – just short of the midnight mark needed to derail a restrictive abortion bill.

At this moment however, Democratic senators are coming to Sen. Davis’ aid, raising parliamentary inquiries as to whether everything was done by Senate rules.

The 83rd Legislature’s special session ends tonight at midnight. You can watch the discussion in the player above, via the Texas Tribune.

Update : Sen. Wendy Davis has begun a filibuster of Senate Bill 5. You can watch her speak in the player above. 

Sen. Davis must speak about the bill and related topics. No other senators can speak for her. And she will have to keep it up for 12-and-a-half hours, until the senate adjourns tonight at midnight. 

Original Story (7 a.m.): A bill that places significant restrictions on abortion in Texas seemed like it would have a smooth path to Gov. Rick Perry’s desk, until one Democratic senator threatened Monday to filibuster. But first, let's go back a bit. 

For the 11 Democratic senators against the collection of abortion restrictions, known as Senate Bill 5, the fact that the debate in the lower chamber lasted from Sunday night through about 4 a.m. Monday morning was a good sign for them in the Senate.  

State Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, beginning her filibuster this afternoon.
Credit Veronica Zaragovia for KUT News

On Monday afternoon when the Senate gaveled in, State Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, announced a plan that she said will begin this morning around 11.

"At that time, if the Governor [David Dewhurst] chooses to recognize Sen. [Glenn] Hegar on this bill, we will begin," she said, voice trailing off.

Begin the filibuster, that is.

This morning, according to Senate rules, it will have been 24 hours since a bill left the House. And that is the soonest the Senate can vote on it. Sen. Davis has agreed, as a mother of two daughters, to speak.

"We felt it was important, because this is an issue affecting women, that a woman have the opportunity to be the voice," she added.

She'll be a voice for women like Shelby Alexander of El Paso, who now lives in Austin. She’s a volunteer with Planned Parenthood.

If Senate Bill 5 passes, some say 37 of the states 42 abortion clinics would close. That’s because the bill requires strict new standards for abortion clinics - those of ambulatory care facilities - and any that don’t meet the requirements by September 2014 would have to close. 

In Alexander's home city of El Paso, that would mean "the closest clinic wouldn’t even be in our own state," she says. "It would be in Albuquerque, New Mexico, which is still a four-hour drive. Some women are buying drugs in Mexico."

State Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, said he’s not going to give up on the effort to abolish abortion in the state.

"I’m not giving up at all. These are important bills," he said. "This is really about women’s health care as well as being about innocent lives. It will improve women’s health care in the state and I really don’t understand why the opposition doesn’t understand it. But I respect people having a different view."

As for today - once Sen. Hegar, R-Katy, brings Senate Bill 5 to the Senate floor, Sen. Davis said she will talk until midnight. All bills of the 2013 special session must pass by midnight or they die. Sen. Patrick hopes if that happens, Gov. Rick Perry will call another session - this time to pass the abortion measures.