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Texas Sen. Wendy Davis launches filibuster to prevent 20-week abortion ban bill

Wendy Davis Texas SState Senator filibusterWhere there’s a woman, there’s a way. And despite public opinion, Texas Sen. Wendy Davis found a way.

Davis, a Democrat representing Fort Worth, launched an 11-hour filibuster Tuesday in an effort to prevent a bill banning abortions after 20 weeks from passing in the state Senate. The legislation, which was passed by the Texas House of Representatives 95-34, was likely to be signed by Gov. Rick Perry (R).

The Texas Senate, which had gathered for a special session, had to vote on the ban before midnight, and the only way Democrats could defeat the bill was to prevent it from coming to a vote Tuesday.

But Davis, who wore a back brace, ultimately lost the floor after three violations of the state’s filibuster rules — which are much stricter than those in the U.S. Congress. The senator was required to speak nonstop while standing and could not deviate from the topic.

But Davis was successful in preventing the vote, with Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst announcing at 3 a.m. local time the special session had ended and the bill could not be signed.

However, Dewhurst did hint that Perry could call another special session, NBC News reported, saying “It’s over. It’s been fun. But see you soon.”

Perry ultimately did just that, calling Wednesday night for a special session on July 1 to discuss the anti-abortion bill.

Davis’ filibuster prompted the hashtag #StandWithWendy on Twitter — a spin on Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-Ky.) #StandwithRand from his 13-hour filibuster — with both President Obama and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) taking notice.

In addition to banning abortions after 20 weeks, the bill would also require abortion clinics throughout the state to be graded as surgical centers and require all doctors to have admitting privileges at Texas hospitals within 30 miles of the clinic where they work.

Opponents of the bill said if passed, nearly all of the state’s clinics wouldn’t be able to meet those standards.

But, despite Davis’ fight to prevent it, Americans actually support a 20-week abortion ban. According to the United Technologies/National Journal Congressional Connection Poll, 48 percent favor a bill banning such abortions, compared to 44 percent who oppose them.

And among women, 50 percent support a ban on procedures after 20 weeks.

This piece has been updated to include Texas Gov. Rick Perry calling for a special session. 


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