Texas’ special session ends at midnight on Tuesday. And if state Sen. Wendy Davis (D) can continue speaking until that point about the dangerous effects of SB 5, an omnibus abortion bill that Texas Republicans are currently attempting to push through the extra lawmaking session, she’ll effectively block it from being able to pass.
Since Republicans have strong majorities in the Texas legislature, SB 5 will certainly win final approval if it’s allowed to come to a vote on Tuesday. And Gov. Rick Perry (R) — who called the current special session largely to give lawmakers another chance to rush through abortion restrictions — has already promised to sign it. But, with the help of hundreds of activists who have flooded the state capitol to protest the proposed anti-abortion legislation, Democrats have successfully stalled SB 5. Now, Davis is their last chance to kill the bill.
Under Texas’ legislative rules, Davis can delay a vote in the Senate as long as she continues talking about SB 5 without stopping to eat, drink, go to the bathroom, sit down, or even lean against a desk. SB 5 first came up for consideration around 11 am on Tuesday, so that’s when Davis had to start speaking.
“I’m rising on the floor today to humbly give voice to thousands of Texans who have been ignored,” Davis said when she first begun her filibuster. “These voices have been silenced by a governor who made blind partisanship and personal political ambition the official business of our great state.”
Watch it live, courtesy of the Texas Tribune:
SB 5 combines several egregious attacks on women’s reproductive freedom into one measure — all separate provisions that failed to advance during Texas’ regular session. If enacted, it would criminalize abortions after 20 weeks and impose harsh restrictions on abortion clinics that would force 90 percent of them to close their doors. Because of the size and population of Texas, women’s health advocates argue that leaving the state with just a handful of abortion providers would be tantamount to banning abortion altogether. Furthermore, the majority of Texas voters don’t support SB 5, and would prefer that their lawmakers don’t focus on abortion during the special session.
Over the past several days, Texas has received an outpouring of support from women’s health advocates all across the country. Residents in other states have sent food and coffee to be delivered to the hundreds of protesters camping out in the capitol building. Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards flew into Texas on Tuesday to stand with the activists. And all eyes are on Davis while she continues her filibuster — as of press time, over 13,000 people are currently watching the Tribune’s live stream.
At 10:05 PM, Texas Republicans declared Davis’ filibuster over by finding her “out of order” for the the 3rd time. The gallery erupted in protest, chanting “Let Her Speak.” Watch:
SB 5 has been defeated. Although the Senate ended Davis’ filibuster and voted to approve SB 5, the Lieutenant Governor concluded that the bill could not be signed because of the “ruckus and noise” that protesters were making in the capitol. Republicans also eventually conceded that the vote did not meet the midnight deadline.