Eleven-hour filibuster stops Texas abortion law…for now

I never thought I’d hear myself say this: I love Texas. Well, to be a bit clearer: I love Texas women. To clarify further: I love the badass, pro-reproductive-rights, Texas women who stood up to the Texas legislature yesterday [June, 25, 2013] and prevented it from passing one of the most restrictive anti-abortion laws ever proposed. And in particular, I love Wendy Davis, the courageous Texas state senator who filibustered the bill under nearly impossible rules, until past the legislatively imposed midnight deadline.

AlterNet gives a full account of Davis and the heroic effort of her cohorts. Here’s the heart of the story:

SB5 would have closed nearly every abortion clinic in the state, leaving only a handful of locations where women in Texas can safely and legally procure the procedure. It also would have outlawed abortion after 20 weeks, directly contradicting Roe v. Wade.

…Davis literally stood with Texas woman for eleven hours, unable to even lean against a podium for support, let alone take a bathroom break or eat. Determined to strike down the bill to which she brought national attention, Davis flat-out refused to yield.

After hours of Davis delivering facts about the necessity of access to abortion and heart-wrenching testimony from women across the country, Texas republicans decided they just couldn’t take any more of her talking and moved to shut her right up. They claimed she violated the filibuster’s “three-strike” rules, twice by allegedly veering off topic by bringing up topics like Planned Parenthood’s budget, mandatory sonograms, and Roe v. Wade (not “germaine,” the GOP claimed), and also by receiving assistance to strap on a backbrace. Shortly after 10 p.m., her Senate foes said she had broken the rules and the filibuster was over.

Attempts to silence Davis resulted in an in eruption of shouting, as supporters yelled “LET HER SPEAK!” At 11 p.m., Democratic senators challenged the end of the filibuster and debated the rules, postponing the vote about 11:45 p.m.. Backing Davis were Sen. Kirk Watson, Sen. Rodney Ellis and Sen. Leticia Van De Putte, who came from her father’s funeral in San Antonio to stand with Davis and Texas women.

The crowd loudly refused to accept the filibuster’s end. Chanting ensued for a straight 15 minutes, drowning out the vote.

Sen. Robert Lloyd Duncan asked for “order” to no avail, and the unruly crowd was ordered out of the building so that the Republicans could have their way and throw away women’s rights in some peace and quiet.

But then, the article continues, “the Senate Republican pulled some really shady shit.”

The Senate passed the bill minutes after the midnight deadline, but the GOP went ahead and changed the document to pretend they met the deadline anyway:

The initial time stamp on the Capitol website and on Senate documents placed the vote at 12:02 or 12:03 on June 26. But then someone mysteriously changed the time stamp to make it appear SB5 passed before the deadline. The time stamp evidence, circulated on Twitter, eventually forced GOP leaders to admit defeat, at least for tonight.

By 12:45 AM, protesters were cleared from the room, and a couple of hours later, the bill was officially dead.

That’s the kind of protest we can all believe in. And we’re going to need a lot more of it. Texas Governor Rick Perry has already called for a special session of the legislature to reconsider the bill.