We will be discussing this story and all the day’s news on our live BlazeCast beginning at 1:00pm ET:
UPDATE 4:05 a.m. ET — Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst has reversed his stance and has informed the Senate that the vote on the tough abortion bill came too late to pass.
“Regrettably,” Dewhurst said time expired before the vote and cannot be enrolled.
“It’s been fun, but, um, see ya soon,” he reportedly said.
UPDATE 3:11 a.m. ET — In yet another stunning twist, officials reportedly announced early Wednesday that SB5 did not pass the Texas Senate before midnight.
There were documents circulated that showed a timestamp on the official record was changed from 6/26 to 6/25.
UPDATE 1:17 a.m. ET — Despite an hours-long attempted filibuster and an out of control gallery of protesters who attempted to shut down the Texas Senate late Tuesday, SB5 passed with a vote of 19-10 taken before midnight, Texas Sen. Dan Patrick told WFAA-TV reporter Jason Whitely.
However, Democrat Sen. Royce West told Whitely the vote happened after midnight. Democrats will reportedly challenge the vote.
The Associated Press reports:
The Republican-controlled House voted for the bill while hundreds of protesters screamed from the gallery. Reporters and Democrats saw the voting begin after midnight, but Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst said it began just before.
Texas’ special legislative session ended at midnight, and Democrats spent most of the day filibustering the bill. Republicans cited rules to eventually force a vote to end the filibuster.
The bill bans abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy and requires that all procedures take place in a surgical center.
Doctors who perform abortions would also need admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles. The surgical center requirement would shut down 37 of Texas’ 42 abortion clinics.
Watch some of the chaos unfold as protesters attempted to shut down the Senate and prevent a vote on the anti-abortion bill.
This is apparently the moment that got the protesters riled up – and they didn’t stop until it was too late to pass the bill.
There were also reports of arrests as police attempted to clear the disruptive protesters out of the Texas Senate.
UPDATE 11:40 p.m. ET — Via the Associated Press:
Texas’ lieutenant governor late Tuesday suspended a senator’s filibuster against wide-ranging abortion restrictions, but Democrats moved quickly to appeal the decision and set off a parliamentary fight over the rules.
Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst after determining that Democratic Sen. Wendy Davis strayed off the topic when she talked about a sonogram bill passed in 2011 and how the new abortion restrictions only compounded the anti-abortion laws in Texas.
Democrats immediately appealed the decision and set off a heated debate. Austin Democratic Sen. Kirk Watson appeared to be positioning himself to launch a new filibuster on Dewhurst’s decision.
Wearing pink tennis shoes to prepare for nearly 13 consecutive hours of standing, Davis began the day with a one-woman filibuster to block a GOP-led effort to impose stringent new abortion restrictions across the nation’s second-most populous state.
The filibuster began at 11:18 a.m. CDT Tuesday and continued until 10:03 p.m., less than two hours before the midnight deadline marking the end of the 30-day special session.
Rules stipulate she remain standing, not lean on her desk or take any breaks — even for meals or to use the bathroom. But she must also stay on topic, and Republicans pointed out a mistake and later protested again when another lawmaker helped her with a back brace.
AUSTIN, Texas (TheBlaze/AP) — Wearing pink tennis shoes to prepare for nearly 13 consecutive hours of standing, a Democratic Texas state senator on Tuesday began a one-woman filibuster to block a GOP-led effort that would impose stringent new abortion restrictions across the nation’s second-most populous state.
Sen. Wendy Davis, 50, of Fort Worth began the filibuster at 11:18 a.m. CDT Tuesday and passed the halfway mark in her countdown to midnight – the deadline for the end of the 30-day special session.
Rules stipulate she remain standing, not lean on her desk or take any breaks – even for meals or to use the bathroom. Colleagues removed her chair so she wouldn’t sit down by mistake.
If signed into law, the measures would close almost every abortion clinic in Texas, a state 773 miles wide and 790 miles long with 26 million people. A woman living along the Mexico border or in West Texas would have to drive hundreds of miles to obtain an abortion if the law passes.
In her opening remarks, Davis said she was “rising on the floor today to humbly give voice to thousands of Texans” and called Republican efforts to pass the bill a “raw abuse of power.”
Democrats chose Davis to lead the effort because of her background as a woman who had her first child as a teenager and went on to graduate from Harvard Law School.
In the hallway outside the Senate chamber, hundreds of women stood in line, waiting for people in the gallery to give up their seats. Women’s rights supporters wore orange t-shirts to show their support for Davis, and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst had to remind those in the gallery that interrupting the proceedings could results in 48 hours in jail.
To stay sharp, Davis slowly circled her desk, pausing occasionally to read from a large binder on her desk. When a male protester stood in the Senate gallery and shouted, “abortion is genocide,” Davis continued talking uninterrupted as the man was removed by security.
If the filibuster succeeds, it could also take down other measures. A proposal to fund major transportation projects as well as a bill to have Texas more closely conform with a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision banning mandatory sentences of life in prison without parole for offenders younger than 18 might not get votes. Current state law only allows a life sentence without parole for 17-year-olds convicted of capital murder.
Twice in the first six hours, anti-abortion lawmakers questioned her about the bills, presenting their arguments that the measure will protect women or that abortions were wrong. Davis answered their questions, but did not give up control of the floor as she stood next to her desk.
“This is really about women’s health,” said Sen, Bob Deuell, who introduced a requirement that all abortions take place in surgical centers, “Sometimes bad things can happen.”
Davis questioned then why vasectomies and colonoscopies aren’t also required to take place in such clinics.
“Because I’ve been unable to have a simple question answered to help me understand how this would lead to better care for women, I must question the underlying motive for doing so.”
Davis used up large chunks of time reading into the record testimony from women and doctors who would be impacted by the changes, but were denied the opportunity to testify in a Republican-controlled committee because the chairman said the it was becoming repetitive.
During one heart-wrenching story describing a woman’s difficult pregnancy, Davis choked up several times and wiped tears, but kept reading.
A petite woman who stays in shape by jogging and cycling, Davis tried to stay comfortable and sharp by shifting her weight from hip to hip and slowly walking around her desk while reading notes from a large binder on her desk.
Republicans watched her closely for any rules slipup that would allow them to break the filibuster and call the bill for a vote.
The bill would ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy and force many clinics that perform the procedure to upgrade their facilities and be classified as ambulatory surgical centers. Also, doctors would be required to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles – a tall order in rural communities.
“If this passes, abortion would be virtually banned in the state of Texas, and many women could be forced to resort to dangerous and unsafe measures,” said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund and daughter of the late former Texas governor Ann Richards.
Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, said the Democrats never should have been allowed to put Republicans “in a box” and complained that many in the Senate GOP were “flying by the seat of their pants.”
But the bill’s bogging down began with Republican Gov. Rick Perry, who summoned lawmakers back to work immediately after the regular legislative session ended May 27 but didn’t add abortion to the special session to-do list until late in the process. The Legislature can only take up issues at the governor’s direction.
Then, House Democrats succeeded in stalling nearly all night Sunday, keeping the bill from reaching the Senate until 11 a.m. Monday.
Debate in that chamber ranged from lawmakers waving coat-hangers on the floor and claiming the new rules are so draconian that women are going to be forced to head to drug war-torn Mexico to have abortions.
Watch some of the filibuster via KDFW:
UPDATE 10:17 p.m. ET — President Barack Obama’s official Twitter account expressed support for Davis as her filibuster entered its ninth hour on Tuesday.
#StandWithWendy was also trending nationwide on Twitter Tuesday night.