Texas Democratic State Sen. Wendy Davis Tuesday conducted a 13-hour filibuster to protest an anti-abortion bill that would ban the procedure after 20 weeks of pregnancy, effectively preventing the legislature from passing it before the session ended at midnight. But Wednesday, Republican Gov. Rick Perry called a second special session so the measure could be approved.
The bill, which would also require abortion clinics to have the same standards as hospital-style surgical centers and require abortion doctors to be able to admit patients at area hospitals, would amount to some of the strictest abortion measures in the United States. The procedure was legalized nationwide in the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision, but states across the country have imposed restrictions on when and where abortions are made available.
The bill, if passed, would likely close 37 of the 43 abortion clinics in the state because complying with its requirements would be too costly. Perry and Republicans, say the bill will actually protect women because it would enforce strict safety standards.
After some procedural confusion Tuesday night, the Senate determined that the bill was not appropriately passed before the midnight deadline, so Perry announced he would call lawmakers back to Austin.The governor vowed to pass the 20-week abortion ban, and criticized Davis for opposing abortion restrictions:
Even the woman who filibustered was born into difficult circumstances. She was the daughter of a single woman, she was a teenage mother herself. She managed to eventually graduate Harvard Law School and serve in the Texas Senate. It's just unfortunate that she hasn't learned from her own example. That every life must be given a chance to realize its own potential; that every life matters.
But Davis said Wednesday that even if the bill is ultimately passed, her filibuster raised essential awareness on the issue:
What I think this has done is empowered people to understand, when they involve themselves in a democracy, they truly can make a difference and they made the difference in the Texas capitol yesterday
That was the incredible focus put on what's happening here in Texas. Women and men across Texas are in an uproar about it and I don't expect that their concerns on this issue are going to go away with the passage of the law. I think there will be political consequences in the future as people exercise their opinion on this issue at the ballot box.
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- Read Leslie Marshall: Supreme Court DOMA, Voting Rights Act Decisions Show the Power of the Vote
- Read Susan Milligan: Wendy Davis, the Texas Abortion Bill and the GOP’s Women Problem
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