Texas Senator Filibusters to Block Restrictive Abortion Bill
At 11:18 a.m. CT Tuesday morning, Texas State Sen. Wendy Davis donned hot pink sneakers and began what she hoped would be a 13-hour filibuster to block a bill that would heavily limit women's access to abortions in her state.
If she hopes to beat the GOP-controlled Senate's proposal, Davis, a Democrat, must continue holding the Senate floor until the special legislative session ends at midnight on Wednesday. Gov. Rick Perry would have to call forth another 30-day special session to reintroduce the bill into the state's legislature if Davis succeeds with her filibuster.
At its core, the bill in question would ban all abortions after the 20-week pregnancy mark and would require clinics to adhere to stricter regulations. Some of these regulations include upgrading facilities and reclassifying the clinics as surgical centers, which could prove to be expensive in rural areas.
The bill also gained national attention earlier this week when its sponsor, Rep. Jodie Laubenberg, a Republican, suggested that emergency room rape kits could be used to terminate pregnancies.
In an official statement posted on her website, Davis aimed her dissatisfaction with the bill at the Republican-controlled Senate, saying that "partisanship and ambition [in Texas] … has risen to a level of profound irresponsibility and the raw abuse of power."
"The actions intended by our state's leaders hurt Texas; they hurt Texas women and their families. … Mainstream families 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," the statement read further.
Five hours into the filibuster, Davis discussed testimony from physicians and women who would be most affected by the proposed legislation and answered questions from people in attendance.
While speaking, Davis must stand as long as she holds the floor and is not permitted to lean on the podium, eat or use the bathroom.
Other state measures that could be put on hold because of Davis's filibuster include a proposal to fund various transportation projects and a bill that would force Texas to adhere to a Supreme Court ruling that banned mandatory prison sentences for minors.