Update 1 a.m. EDT: "Total chaos" and "pandemonium" in Texas Senate as deadline nears, reports Austin American- Statesman.
Update midnight EDT: Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, presiding over the state Senate, suspended the filibuster of Democratic Sen. Wendy Davis, ruling that she strayed off the topic when she talked about a sonogram bill passed in 2011 and how the new abortion restrictions only compounded the anti-abortion laws in Texas, the AP reports.
Democratic members immediately appealed the decision and set off a heated debate. Democratic Sen. Kirk Watson of Austin appeared to be positioning himself to launch a new filibuster on Dewhurst's decision.
Update 11:50 p.m. EDT: More than 10 hours after Davis began her filibuster, Republicans were near to shutting her down, the Austin American -Statesman reports. They cited her for three rules violations, which allows a simple majority vote to end debate.
Davis supporters who protested were removed from the gallery.
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Texas Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, vowed to filibuster the abortion bill, Senate Bill 5, when it hit the floor for a vote. The abortion bill passed the House on Monday and returned to the state Senate for a vote, but the special legislation will end at midnight on Tuesday.
Davis is no stranger to a filibuster and has to constantly talk for 13 hours in order to prevent a vote on the abortion bill, thus defeating it. Democrats are in the minority in the Senate, and the filibuster is the only way for the Democrats to defeat the bill.
The abortion bill was passed by the House early Monday morning. SB-5 would ban abortions after 20 weeks and require doctors performing the procedures to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the clinic, and abortions would have to be performed at a surgery clinic. Hundreds of protesters were on hand during the House vote as Democrats tried to debate and stall the bill’s passage.
The opponents of SB-5 argue the bill would effectively close the vast majority of abortion clinics in Texas while women in rural areas of Texas would need to travel great distances to find a clinic. The bill’s passage could lead to unsafe medical practices and put women at risk.
The Senate would need to vote on the bill before midnight on Tuesday, which marks the deadline of the special session ordered by Texas Governor Rick Perry. Davis announced her plans to filibuster the bill, effectively delaying the vote and defeating it.
Davis is in the second hour of her filibuster and cannot take a break, go to the bathroom or lean on anything for support. She is currently reading the bill and arguments against the bill very slowly. Democrats can ask questions, which would give Davis a short break from talking. On Twitter, many are supporting Davis’ filibuster, including the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, which said, “Our hero Sen. @WendyDavisTexas has been speaking for 2 hours, 17 minutes -- and going strong. Go Wendy go! #txlege #sb5.” The Planned Parenthood Action Fund corrected its tweet, noting the time zone difference -- Davis is currently in her first hour of the filibuster.
The Senate live stream can be viewed below. Davis will need to continue speaking until midnight to successfully filibuster the abortion bill. Perry could order another special session in order to have the abortion bill become law.