TX Dem begins filibuster on state abortion bills

AUSTIN KVUE -- It will likely be a long day for Texas lawmakers at the State Capitol. The special session of the Legislature ends Tuesday night, and several issues are still on the table.

Perhaps the most controversial topic is a bill that includes some of the toughest abortion regulations in the country. Senate Democrats have said they are prepared to do whatever they can to prevent a vote on it.

Senator Wendy Davis of Fort Worth began her filibuster, or long speech, at 11:18 a.m. Tuesday. She must talk until the session ends Tuesday at midnight.

During the speech Senator Davis won't be able to eat, drink or visit the restroom. The entire speech must be about the bill, and Davis wont be able to sit or even lean at the podium.

In her opening remarks, Davis called efforts to pass the bill a "raw abuse of power."


She and her colleagues believe Senate Bill 5 will make it dangerous and more difficult for women to end their pregnancies. Democrats say it would likely close 37 of the state's 42 abortion clinics that are not surgery centers.

It also restricts abortions after 20 weeks. That's a measure Republicans say would prevent fetuses that can feel pain from suffering and protect a patient's safety.

Senator Davis released this statement on Tuesday:

Partisanship and ambition are not unusual in a state capitol, but here, in Texas, right now, it has risen to a level of profound irresponsibility and the raw abuse of power.

The actions intended by our state's leaders hurt Texas; they hurt Texas women and their families.  Their actions undermine the hard work and commitment of fair-minded, mainstream Texas families who want nothing more than to work hard, raise their children, stay healthy and be a productive part of the greatest state in our country.  These mainstream families embrace the challenge to create the greatest possible Texas, yet are pushed back and held down by the narrow and divisive interests driving our state's leaders. 

Today I am going to talk about the path these leaders have chosen and about the dark place it will take us. I will try to explain the history of the failed legislation before us, the impact of that legislation and, most importantly, what history tells us about these policies and the motivations behind them.  They do real damage to our state and to the families whose rights are violated and whose personal relationship with their doctor and their creator are being violated.

Most importantly I will share with you what 1000s of families have to say about this legislation and those bringing this legislation to the floor when the majority of Texans want us working on the pressing, genuine business, of the people of Texas. 

Anti-abortion groups agree, although they have not been very visible during the last week of debate at the Capitol. Leaders discouraged them from testifying during hearings, so as not to delay any votes.

Abortion rights advocates, however, have come to Austin by the thousands, and Tuesday was no different.

A call to action on social media from NARAL Pro-Choice Texas asked supporters to come to the Capitol at 9 a.m. Tuesday. Cecile Richards, National President of Planned Parenthood and daughter of former Texas Governor Ann Richards, joined the rally in the rotunda.

While the abortion bill is taking center stage, it's not the only thing left for lawmakers to consider. Bills regarding major transportation funding and juvenile justice have not been voted on. Both measures are supported by Democrats.


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