AUSTIN – Lawmakers in Texas are vowing not to give up on a late-term abortion ban after a filibustering state senator and unruly protesters delayed the passage of abortion-restricting measures.
As previously reported, on Monday, Senate Bill 5 (SB5) passed overwhelmingly in the Texas House of Representatives. SB5 includes stipulations that would ban abortions after 20 weeks of gestation, and also calls for increased medical safety standards in abortion clinics. According to recent reports, nearly 90% of Texas’ abortion clinics do not currently meet the bill’s requirements, and could face closure if SB5 is implemented.
The bill was introduced in the Senate on Tuesday, which was the last day of the state’s special legislative session. Since a majority of Texas state senators are pro-life conservatives, SB5 was expected to pass easily.
However, Senator Wendy Davis, a Democrat from Fort Worth, led an 11-hour-long filibuster to delay voting on the bill. According to Courthouse News, Davis spoke non-stop until approximately 10:00 p.m., when Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst ended her speech because she had strayed off topic.
In the remaining two hours of the session, raucous cheers and shouts from fervent pro-abortion protesters inside the capitol drowned out the senators’ voting attempts, and—by 3:00 a.m. Wednesday—SB5 was officially declared dead. Dewhurst was visibly frustrated, and declared that “an unruly mob, using Occupy Wall Street tactics, disrupted the Senate from protecting unborn babies,” according to the Austin American-Statesman.
After the bill’s demise, abortion supporters were exuberant, saying the day had been a major victory for women’s rights. On Twitter, Davis called the actions “[a]n incredible victory for Texas women and those who love them.”
However, Texas pro-lifers vowed that SB5’s defeat was not the end of the story. Dewhurst said “see you soon” to reporters on Wednesday, and then later Tweeted, “I pledge to Texas one thing: this fight is far from over.”
Additionally, Governor Rick Perry announced in a press release that a second special session of the Texas legislature would convene on Monday. The first item listed on the agenda is the late-term abortion ban.
“I am calling the legislature back into session because too much important work remains undone for the people of Texas,” Perry stated in the release. “Through their duly elected representatives, the citizens of our state have made crystal clear their priorities for our great state. Texans value life and want to protect women and the unborn. … We will not allow the breakdown of decorum and decency to prevent us from doing what the people of this state hired us to do.”
Shortly after announcing the official plans for the second special legislative session, Perry spoke at the 43rd annual National Right to Life Convention in Dallas, where he denounced the “extremes” to which the “pro-abortion forces” had resorted.
“They demonstrated that even if they lose at the ballot box,” he said, “even if they come up short in attempts to stall on the Senate floor, they’ll resort to mob tactics to force their minority agenda on the people of Texas. And I’m all about honest, open debate; parliamentary tactics are certainly nothing new. But what we witnessed Tuesday was nothing more than the hijacking of the democratic process. This is simply too important a cause to allow unruly actions of a few to stand in its way.”
“Yes, many children are born into difficult circumstances,” he continued, “but there is no such thing as an unwanted child, because no life—no life—is trivial in God’s eyes. … Until the day that Roe v. Wade is nothing more but a shameful footnote in our nation’s history books, we will not give up the good fight.”