Over the past several days, women’s health advocates in Texas have spearheaded a grassroots movement to fight back against proposed abortion restrictions being rushed through the legislature. As lawmakers advance SB 5 — an omnibus anti-abortion bill that would, in the words of Planned Parenthood’s Cecile Richards, “virtually ban” abortion in the Lone Star State — Texans are taking matters into their own hands.
Clad in orange “Stand with Texas women” T-shirts, activists are preparing to camp out in the capitol building on Tuesday as Senate Democrats filibuster the SB 5 vote. Women’s health advocates hope to block a final vote on the massive abortion bill until midnight on Tuesday, when the current special session ends. Photos from on the ground in Texas courtesy of Planned Parenthood:
Although Texas Democrats are far outnumbered by Republicans in both the House and the Senate, they have managed to delay the votes on SB 5 long enough that they still have a chance to kill the abortion legislation on Tuesday. SB 5 will likely be brought up for debate around 11 am, and state Sen. Wendy Davis (D) has already promised to filibuster the legislation. If she successfully talks about the anti-abortion bill on the floor for 13 hours, until the special session ends, she could prevent it from being sent to Gov. Rick Perry’s (R) desk.
But there’s nothing to stop the governor from calling another special session to give SB 5 yet another chance for consideration. Jessica Luther, a freelance writer and activist on the ground in Texas, notes that the current special session also has a few other pieces of legislation on the docket: one on transportation and another on criminal justice. If the GOP-dominated Senate brings up SB 5 first for consideration, Davis will be forced to filibuster all three bills in order to block the abortion restrictions — which could give Perry an excuse to demand another special session under the guise that there are other important issues left undone.
The hundreds of protesters flooding the capitol building are representative of Texas residents as a whole. Texans don’t support SB 5, and 80 percent of voters don’t want lawmakers to focus on abortion during the current special session.