Enter your email address and start getting breaking law firm and legal news right now!
Wendy Davis Successfully Filibusters Prohibitions on Abortion in Texas
A filibuster initiated by Texas State Senator Wendy Davis successfully blocked new legislation that would close all but four of the state’s abortion clinics, though the move sparked controversy within the Senate and accusations of vote tampering by State Senate Republicans.
At around 11:18 am yesterday morning, Davis took the floor for what she had planned to be a filibuster to prevent a vote on a law that would enact new, strict requirements on abortions, essentially banning the procedure after a woman has been pregnant for more than 20 weeks, and requiring that all doctors working in abortion clinics maintain a residency at a hospital. Davis, who gave birth to a child while she was a teen, strongly opposed the legislation, which was supported by Texas Governor Rick Perry, who claimed he would sign it into law just as soon as it was passed by the State Senate.
Because yesterday was the last day of the special session of the Texas State Senate, Davis planned to filibuster the vote until midnight, a total of 13 hours, in order to prevent the legislation from being signed into law until the next special session of the State Senate, which is currently scheduled for 2015. Wearing track shoes, Davis passionately spoke about her own experiences with abortion and read Twitter comments from women who have had experiences with abortions for nearly 13 hours on the State Senate floor.
Texas law states that a filibuster can only continue if the State Senator only pauses to answer questions, and that the person filibustering cannot sit or lean for any amount of time. Davis could be seen switching from leg to leg as she stood for thirteen hours, and her voice became hoarser as the filibuster continued.
The Huffington Post reports that after a third point of order was called on Davis for straying off topic by discussing mandatory ultrasound testing, her filibuster concluded, and she yielded the floor shortly before midnight, the deadline for the vote. Activists, who had gathered in the Senate, then stormed the floor in what has been described as a “people’s filibuster,” effectively delaying the vote for another fifteen minutes.
While a vote was taken on the legislation, which resoundingly passed in the Republican-controlled Senate, the vote did not conclude prior to the midnight deadline. Reports have suggested that an attempt was made to doctor Senate records in order to show that the vote was taken before midnight, but as the dust clears, it is apparent that the legislation was effectively delayed.
Image Credit: Nancy Nanthavongsa