The Texas Earthquake: A Filibuster, a Marred Vote, and a Movement Energized (UPDATED)
Though there was initial confusion as to whether SB 5 had passed, Planned Parenthood Action Fund President Cecile Richards announced in the Texas capitol early Wednesday morning that the legislation is dead, to huge cheers from the hundreds of pro-choice advocates still gathered in the building.
Update, June 26, 3:21 a.m. EST: Planned Parenthood Action Fund President Cecile Richards just announced in the Texas capitol that SB 5 is dead, to huge cheers from the hundreds of pro-choice advocates still gathered in the building. Watch Rewire for more news and analysis of the SB 5 fight soon.
The most momentous vote in the Texas state legislature this year may have been taken this morning, in the first few minutes of June 26. Or it may have been taken last night, in the final minutes of June 25.
As of right now—2:43 a.m. EST on Wednesday, June 26—no one is sure.
The bill, SB 5, is an omnibus abortion bill that includes, among other things, a 20-week abortion ban and costly, medically unnecessary regulations that would close all but five clinics, in four cities, in a state of 26 million people.
It remains unclear if the bill passed, because the vote may have happened before midnight, in which case a majority Republican legislature would have passed it, or after midnight, in which case the session during which the bill was live would have expired.
The confusion stems in part from an apparent date stamp change on the Texas legislature’s website; as you can see from the screenshots below, the Texas legislature’s action page originally said the vote took place on the 26th, while the second says it took place on the 25th.
The only thing that is certain is that Tuesday was a turning point for Texas, and perhaps the country. It was the day when state Sen. Wendy Davis (D-Fort Worth) stood for 11 hours to filibuster the bill that would strip women in Texas of their most fundamental rights. Her filibuster was challenged persistently throughout the day by GOP legislators who claimed that mentions of Roe v. Wade, sonograms, and access to abortion were not “germane” to a bill that is about abortion.
But Davis was undeterred. She did not waver. She did not “lean,” drink water, go to the bathroom, or even touch her desk, any of which which would have disqualified her filibuster. She calmly and patiently answered question after question posed by both Republican and Democrat colleagues, passionately read through the stories and testimonies of people from throughout the state and the country, and fended off supercilious comments about women and abortion.
Tuesday was also the day when well over 1,000 people jammed the state capitol—the gallery, the rotunda, and the outside grounds—to protest the bill. When Davis was told at one point late in the evening that her filibuster would no longer go on, they cheered and clapped and shouted “Let her speak!” and “Wendy!” And reportedly, some of them are being arrested for their protests tonight.