Wednesday, June 26, 2013

GOP anti-abortion bill fails in final 10 minutes

Sen. Davis wore pink tennis shoes throughout the ordeal
'Peoples' filibuster' halts final vote

Austin – Changing the rules to suit the desires of conservative legislators failed utterly as a legislative tactic in an 11th hour showdown just minutes before a special session was scheduled to end debate of all legislation called for by Governor Rick Perry.

Pandemonium erupted in the Senate chamber and in the rotunda of the capital building as Republican leadership tried to take a final vote on an abortion bill that would have effectively ended the free choice of low and moderate income women to terminate their pregnancies in Texas.

Had the law passed, many women would have faced long journeys to clinics outside state boundaries or across the border in Mexico.

Roe v. Wade, a U.S. Supreme Court decision handed down 40 years ago, allows women the right to choose in privacy, with the help of their doctors, to make such a decision without interference from legal authorities or opposition from religious or moral “counselors.”

Following nearly 11 hours of filibuster, Senate President David Dewhurst, the Lieutenant Governor, ruled that Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Ft. Worth, had erred in three times straying off topic in trifling ways he and the GOP leadership deemed sufficient to halt the filibuster.

When he tried to call for the final vote, an angry mob of protesters raised so much hell, shouting "Shame, shame," it was impossible to proceed to the legislative business of making women travel very long distances to arrange surgical procedures that would end their pregnancies past a newly imposed limit of 20 weeks.

The resulting chaos left Republican stalwarts huddled around the President's rostrum in the east, attempting to hear each other talk, while the clock ran out at midnight.
DPS troopers strong arm an elderly woman out of the gallery

Though a vote was taken, it did not occur prior to the expiration time of the special session. Mr. Dewhurst said that would preclude enrollment of the bill. "It's over," he said. "It's been fun." He and others predicted the Governor will call another special session.

Senate rules call for a filibustering member to remain on the topic of the legislation on the floor and to remain standing, without leaning or sitting, with no food or water, and without visiting a lavatory for the duration of the filibuster.

All these things the Senator did, but on two occasions she mentioned topics that the Lt. Governor deemed unsuitable, including the budget of Planned Parenthood and a sonogram bill the legislature passed in 2011. Both of those topics are considered integral to the matter of a woman's right to choose, in the minds of opponents of the Republican legislation.

In a third case, she accepted help from another member in trying to adjust a back brace she was wearing.

Mr. Dewhurst decried “Occupy Wall Street” tactics that foiled his attempt to bend the rules in the favor of the Republican agenda.

Supporters of the abortion bill vowed they would prevail upon Governor Rick Perry to call another special session that includes passage of the same bill, or a similar bill.

If passed, it will limit abortions to the first 20 weeks of a pregnancy, require abortion providers to maintain the same kind of equipment a surgical theater uses in a hospital, and require doctors to have admitting privileges at an accredited hospital located within 30 miles of the location of the abortion clinic.

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