Early this morning a bill that could have closed all abortion clinics in Texas failed after an epic 11 hour filibuster by Democratic State Senator Wendy Davis, who was joined by over 400 protesters in capitol. The Senate in Texas is controlled by the GOP, and in the special session, SB 5 would have had to pass by midnight yesterday.
The Lieutenant Governor of Texas, David Dewhurst, had stopped Senator Davis’s filibuster for venturing off topic when she discussed mandatory ultrasounds. This action prompted a loud response from protesters in the Capitol.
Prior to midnight, Democratic State Senator Leticia Van de Putte, asked her colleagues, “At what point must a female senator raise her hand or her voice to be recognized over her male colleagues?” This prompted loud cheers from the protesters, which helped run the clock.
Republicans tried to vote on the bill, but midnight had already passed according to the Texas Legislative Services website. The website’s time stamp was even changed to reflect a vote being completed on “6-25-13,” after it had said that the vote was completed on “6-26-13.”
Lieutenant Governor Dewhurst made the final announcement this morning that the bill could not be forwarded to Governor Perry because the constitutional time had expired. He blamed “an unruly mob, using Occupy Wall Street tactics” for the delayed vote.
The failure of SB 5 demonstrates the impact of grassroots activists who are willing to take their grievances to the state house directly. Last night, San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro tweeted, “Now you know why no party should hold a 20 year, 29-0 edge in statewide elected offices. It breeds arrogance.” His brother, Congressman Joaquin Castro tweeted, “First Dewhurst took the vote after the midnight deadline and then they tried to cover their tracks by changing the time stamp!” Attention could shift to Texas and its long standing GOP domination of politics, at a time when a majority of all Americans want abortion to be legal in all or most cases.