Tough Abortion Bill Fails After Filibuster, Loud Protest
Texas Senate Bill 5 failed to pass Tuesday night after a lengthy filibuster and shouts from protesters caused lawmakers to miss a midnight deadline to vote it into law.
SB 5 would have shut down nearly all abortion clinics in the state. Democratic State Senator Wendy Davis’ filibustered for nearly 11 hours to block a vote on the bill, but her filibuster was ultimately halted by Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who ruled that Davis’ discussion of mandatory ultrasound testing was off-topic. This prompted cries of “Shame! Shame!” from demonstrators, who were encouraged to become more noisy and unruly after Dewhurst’s ruling was questioned by Senator Leticia Van De Putte.
Dewhurst called for a vote, but now acknowledges that Republicans missed the midnight deadline to pass the bill. He insists that “with all the ruckus and noise going on, [he] couldn’t sign the bill.” He has denounced demonstrators, but denies losing control of the chamber, instead calling the crowd an “unruly mob”.
Republicans had at first insisted that a vote took place before midnight, but computer records show that the vote took place Wednesday, though some attempt was made to alter the record so that it would read Tuesday. This would indicate that the bill was close to passage, but that it could not be formally signed and passed by Republican lawmakers before midnight.
Senate Bill 5 would ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy and require clinics performing abortion procedures to upgrade their facilities and be classified as ambulatory surgical centers. Doctors would also be required to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles, something opponents say is unfair to rural communities.