Sen. Wendy Davis was able to filibuster the Texas abortion bill, Senate Bill 5, to defeat. The special session of the Texas Senate ended at midnight on Tuesday, but there was plenty of controversy surrounding the end of the filibuster as well as what will be next for the failed SB-5.
Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, presiding over the state Senate, sustained a motion by Sen. Donna Campbell, R-New Braunfels, who argued Davis’ discussion of a 2011 sonogram bill effectively putting an end to Davis’ filibuster at 12-and-a-half hours. Despite not completing the 13 hours of marathon talking, Davis spent enough time on the floor to delay the vote past the midnight deadline, effectively defeating the bill.
As the Dallas Morning News reports, the end of the filibuster featured plenty of controversy. Davis had three warnings before a vote could be called that would end her filibuster. A previous warning against her occurred earlier in the day when she had her back brace adjusted by Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston. Campbell’s motion was Davis’ final warning, and there was a little under two hours left before the deadline, meaning a vote on SB-5 could have still taken place and would have become law if passed.
With hundreds of people outside the legislature and thousands following on Twitter and the Internet, it was unclear what would happen. Democrats, including Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, tried to raise a point of order against Campbell’s motion, while Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, who was not present earlier as she was attending her father’s funeral, tried to further delay the proceedings, the Dallas Morning News reports. As the filibuster went on, Davis gained new supporters, including President Barack Obama, who tweeted a link to the live stream.
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— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) June 26, 2013
There were no clear answers after midnight, but it became clear that the vote was taken just after the Tuesday deadline, meaning SB-5 was defeated. On the Texas legislature website, the last update shows a date of 06/25/2013, but Lt. Gov. Dewhurst and others confirmed the vote occurred on Wednesday. It remains unclear why the incorrect date remains on the website.
Addressing the crowd after a lengthy closed-door meeting that ended at 3 a.m. local time, Dewhurst said, “An unruly mob using Occupy Wall Street tactics has tried all day to derail legislation that has been intended to protect the lives and the safety of women and babies.” A tired Davis said of the filibuster and the abortion bill defeat, “Well, I guess the proof is in the pudding, and the pudding tastes awfully good right now,” the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports. After the chaotic end to the filibuster, Davis thanked her supporters on Twitter.
Thanks to the powerful voices of thousands of Texans, #SB5 is dead. An incredible victory for Texas women and those who love them.
— Wendy Davis (@WendyDavisTexas) June 26, 2013
While the abortion bill was defeated during this special session, Texas Governor Rick Perry can order another special senate, once again requiring a vote on SB-5. While SB-5 may ultimately pass into law, many believe the national attention on the issue will prove to a tremendous moral victory, as noted by NPR and Texas Monthly. Dewhurst, after conceding defeat, said to the press, “It’s been fun, but, uh, see you soon.”