3:05 a.m. Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst officially tells Texas Senate that "Senate bill 5 cannot be signed in the presence of the senate." He adds, "See you soon."
2:20 a.m. Lt. Gov., in the Capitol rotunda, says #SB5 has died. It did not pass the Senate. Still awaiting an official statement to the press.
2:00 a.m. Senate is still in caucus behind closed doors, attempting to decide if #SB5 passed or not.
Current staff writer Mary Tuma reports from the #TXLege:
1:28 a.m. We just heard from Van de Putte. She says the record vote date was changed to before midnight (meaning GOP manipulated vote).
12:54 a.m. [Davis says] she's never seen support (1,000s of protestors) like [this] before. [It] shows determination of Texas women. Adds that filibuster was "worth it."
12:53 a.m. We just heard from [Senator Wendy] Davis here in the chamber. She's "overwhelmed" by support. Anticipates a possible [constitutional] challenge to vote #SB5.
12:35 a.m. [Republicans] say it passed, [Democrats] says no [because] vote ended after midnight, invalidating it.
12:15 a.m. [Senator] Dan Patrick just told us #SB5 passed 19-10. I asked if it bothered him that no one heard. He said well, the Senators heard.
Live Tweeting #TXLege Abortion Bills #SB5 #HB60
House Approves Anti-Abortion Bill Despite Hundreds of Protestors
This morning, state Sen. Wendy Davis (D-Forth Worth) began an expected 13-hour filibuster on the Texas Senate floor in an effort to run out the clock on final approval of bill that would essentially eliminate abortion access in the state.
“Partisanship and ambition are not unusual in a state capitol, but here, in Texas, right now, they have risen to a level of profound irresponsibility and raw abuse of power,” Davis began, below a packed Senate gallery filled with pro-choice supporters.
Sen. Wendy Davis (D-Fort Worth) filibusters a bill that would decimate abortion access in Texas, as pro-choice advocates watch from the Senate gallery. Photo by Mary Tuma.
“The actions intended by our state’s leaders hurt Texas; they hurt Texas women and their families [and] undermine the hard work and commitment of fair-minded, mainstream Texas families who want nothing more than to work hard, raise their children, stay healthy and be a productive part of the greatest state in our country. [They] embrace the challenge to create the greatest possible Texas, yet are pushed back and held down by the narrow and divisive interests driving our state’s leaders.”
Senate Bill 5 and its House counterpart, HB 60 would shutter 37 of the 42 abortion clinics in the state by requiring clinics meet the same standards as ambulatory surgical centers (ASCs), a demand experts contend is costly, unnecessary and will severely damage women’s access to abortion care. It also forces abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at a hospital no further than 30 miles where the procedure is performed, forces women to follow guidelines that would add cost and decrease safety when taking abortion-inducing drugs and includes a measure outlawing the procedure after 20-weeks post fertilization.
Davis went on to read opposition statements by health professionals major medical organizations, such as The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) Texas District, who warn against the bill. ACOG writes, SB5 does not “enhance patient safety or improve the quality of care that women receive,” but “erodes it by denying women in Texas the benefits of well-researched, safe, and proven protocols.”
After conservative Republican Gov. Rick Perry added abortion to the special session agenda, a duo of identical bills clumping the most onerous restrictions together gained traction in the GOP-led Senate and House, as the Current previously reported. (The all-in-one bill is a compilation of the most restrictive legislation that failed to even make it to either chamber floor during regular session.) Suspending normal operating rules during special session, such as dropping the requirement a two-thirds Senate majority is needed to pass legislation– one of the key safeguards to maintaining power for minority Democrats– Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, Perry and fellow anti-abortion Republicans anticipated smooth sailing.
But Democrats stepped up with their own procedural maneuvers, delaying a House vote on Sunday with points of order, parliamentary inquires and a flurry of amendments. Now, only a few hours are left in the special session, which ends at midnight, and Davis plans to keep talking until then.
Davis is in the midst of reading some 31 testimonies from those shut out of a House Committee hearing on the bill earlier this month, oftentimes through tears while recounting personal stories including that of a woman struggling with fetal abnormalities. More than 700 largely pro-choice advocates signed up to share their thoughts on the draconian legislation but were told their stories were getting too “repetitive” by GOP committee Chair Rep. Byron Cook, the Current reported. Since then, Democratic leadership have criticized the process as undemocratic and disrespectful.
“Members, in my nearly 20 years in the House, I have never seen anything like this: not this level of participation in a hearing, nor this level of disrespect for witnesses [
],” said Rep. Jessica Farrar (D-Houston) during Sunday’s House debate. “Cutting off their testimony arbitrarily makes a farce of the system.”
Davis is now trying to give voice to those silenced.
All eyes are on the clock. Stay tuned for updates.