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article imageDemocrats kill Texas abortion bill with 12-hour filibuster

By Yukio Strachan     Jun 26, 2013 in Politics
Austin - Wearing hot pink tennis shoes, Texas State Senator Wendy Davis stood for nearly 12 consecutive hours on the Senate floor to derail a Republican-led abortion bill that would have forced nearly all the state's abortion clinics to close.
“Members, I'm rising on the floor today to humbly give voice to thousands of Texans who have been ignored,” Sen. Davis of Fort Worth said in the opening minutes of her filibuster which began at 11:18 a.m. CDT Tuesday and continued until 10:03 p.m, KHOU-TV Houston reported.
To derail a vote on Senate Bill 5 (SB 5) that would ban abortions after the 20th week of a pregnancy, she had to keep speaking until midnight—the deadline for the end of the 30-day special session.
Rules stipulate that she remain standing, not lean on her desk or take any breaks -- even for meals or to use the bathroom, CBS reported. She was only allowed to stop speaking when listening to questions. But she also had to stay on topic.
According to Reuters, Davis whittled away chunks of time by reading testimony and other messages from women and others decrying the legislation, and tapping into her own life history as a single mother at 19. She said the bill would have choked of her own access to a local Planned Parenthood clinic.
"I was a poor, uninsured woman, whose only care was provided through that facility. It was my medical home," said Davis, 50, several hours into her speech.
CBS reports that Democrats chose Davis to lead the effort because of her background as a woman who had her first child as a teenager and went on to graduate from Harvard Law School.
As NBC points out, although Texas is just the latest of several conservative states to try to enact tough limits on abortions, the scope of its effort is notable because of the combination of bills being considered and the size of the state:
When combined in a state 773 miles wide and 790 miles long and with 26 million people, the measures would become the most stringent set of laws to impact the largest number of people in the nation.
Republican supporters of the bill said it would protect the health of women and the ban on late-term abortions would protect the fetus based on a medically disputed theory that suggests pain is felt by 20 weeks of development.
Opponents of the bill say it's just a continuation of the war on women. Some say the bill treats women like children. For example, the bill allows exceptions "for pregnancies that threatened the mother’s life or major bodily function and when a severe fetal abnormality was present."
But there's one "bodily function" that's off limits, according to the text of the bill:
"It would not be appropriate to make exceptions based on subjective, and possibly inaccurate, evaluations of a pregnant woman’s mental state, which could be influenced by hormonal mood swings that many women experience at various times during pregnancy."
Lawmakers can vote to end a filibuster after three sustained points of order.The filibuster ended after Davis' third violation. But it was too late. By the time the Senate finished voting it was after midnight.
Texas’ lieutenant governor David Dewhurst returned to the Senate floor at 3:01 a.m., banged the gavel and announced that, “regrettably, the constitutional time expired” on the special session, American-Statesman reported.
Senate Bill 5 cannot be signed because it passed after midnight, he said.
“An unruly mob, using Occupy Wall Street tactics, disrupted the Senate from protecting unborn babies,” he said, speaking to reporters afterward about the 400 pro-choice supporters. "I didn't lose control of what we were doing."
More about Texas Abortion Bill, Filibuster, Wendy Davis, Senate Bill 5, senator wendy davis filibuster
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