On Tuesday, Texas State Senator Wendy Davis filibustered for nearly 12 hours to block the last-minute, special session passage of SB5, a bill with much tougher restrictions on abortions that would effectively shut down 37 of Texas’ 42 abortion clinics and ban abortions after 20 weeks.
Thousands came to the capitol building in Austin Tuesday, many to protest the bill and to support Davis in her filibuster. Protesters crowded the capitol’s rotunda, gathered outside the Senate chambers and gallery, and crammed into an overflow room where the filibuster was screened with faltering sound.
It was an emotional night for many.
After Davis received her third warning for violating filibuster rules, Democrats delayed with procedural questions and objections. These could not hold off a vote, however, and the Texas senate voted 19 to 10 to pass SB5. However, delayed by the roars of protesters outside the Senate chambers, the vote came three minutes after midnight, when special session had already ended.
As those in the chamber decided what to do, Democratic senator and former Austin mayor Kirk Watson addressed the enormous crowd, telling them, “tonight was not about politics. It was about power.”
By the grace of mere minutes, SB5 is dead for now. However, Democrats and advocates now face the possibility of a second, Governor-ordered special session— a move Lt. Governor David Dewhurst has indicated is likely.
It’s crazy to think this happened a year ago.