11-Hour Filibuster Kills Texas Abortion Law

     (CN) – A state senator’s 11-hour filibuster Tuesday and screaming from opponents in the Senate gallery helped defeat a bill that would have banned abortions after 20 weeks in Texas.
     It was after 3 a.m. when Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, a Republican, announced Senate Bill 5’s demise.
     State Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Forth Worth, started her filibuster at 11:18 a.m. Tuesday and needed to talk until midnight to block the bill.
     But Dewhurst stopped Davis’ filibuster around 10 p.m. Tuesday when he upheld an objection that her speech about ultra-sound testing was off topic.
     The filibuster and vote were streamed live online by The Texas Tribune.
     Dewhurst’s ruling prompted chants of “Let Her Speak” from SB 5 opponents in the audience, which halted the Senate proceedings until Department of Public Safety officers cleared several protesters from the gallery, according to the Austin American-Statesman.
     Then, over the screams of protesters who remained, the Republican-led Senate tried to vote on SB 5 minutes before the special session ended at midnight.
     But screams from the audience drowned out the vote, and after midnight the outcome was still not clear: Republicans claimed it had passed 17-12; Democrats said the vote had come after the midnight deadline.
     A time stamp showing the vote was finished after midnight officially killed the bill, however, and Dewhurst returned to the Senate floor at 3:01 a.m. to announce that the bill could not be signed.
     Dewhurst was furious. He told reporters that “an unruly mob, using Occupy Wall Street tactics, disrupted the Senate from protecting unborn babies,” according to the American-Statesman.
     In addition to banning abortion in Texas after 20 weeks of pregnancy, opponents said, SB 5 would have shut down nearly all abortion clinics in the state by imposing tighter restrictions on them.
     The bill also would have imposed new rules on administering abortion-inducing drugs, and required doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of their practice.
     The Legislature’s special session started minutes after its 83rd regular session ended on May 27.
     The special session ended at midnight this morning.

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