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Here's How State Senator Wendy Davis Filibustered the Texas Abortion Bill

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Here's How State Senator Wendy Davis Filibustered the Texas Abortion Bill


We've written about the anti-abortion bill here and here; we've tweeted about it, thought about it, and talked about it. And now, the weeks-long bill came to a close last night at 3 a.m., thanks to an 11-hour filibuster by Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis (D). Here's everything you need to know about the latest in yesterday's abortion bill chaos.

The bill: The bill, which passed in the Texas House of Representatives this week, would have a) banned most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, b) enforced stricter standards on abortion clinics, and c) closed 37 out of 42, more than 88 percent, of those clinics. Gov. Rick Perry expressed that he would have signed it, saying "We have an obligation to protect unborn children, and to hold those who peddle these abortions to standards that would minimize the death, disease and pain they cause."

The filibuster: Otherwise known as "taking out a bill," parliamentary filibusters exist to delay or prevent a vote on a bill. Davis' filibuster required her to stand continually without assistance (her poor back!) and remain on topic while the debate surrounding the bill was extended. Yesterday, Davis attempted to block the anti-abortion bill with a 13-hour filibuster, which would lead right into the bill's midnight deadline — when lawmakers had to vote on bill. However, Davis fell short by about three hours when Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst ruled that her discussion of mandatory ultrasound testing was off-topic. For the remaining few hours, demonstrators in the capitol held their own, shouting "Shame! Shame!" until after the 12 a.m. deadline had passed.

The result: At 3 a.m., Dewhurst came onto the Senate floor to announce that the unprecedented session was over. "I have been here 18 years and have never seen anything like this," said spokesman for Democratic state Sen. Rodney Ellis, Jeremy Warren.

Last night's fight — spearheaded by a very articulate, determined, and inspirational Davis — was a historic moment for women's health. Who better to defend women's (and doctors') rights to our bodies than a, quite frankly, total kick-ass woman like Davis. But like Cecile Richards, present of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, said last night, "We made history tonight, but we know this isn't the end of the fight to protect women's access to health care in Texas."

Follow Wendy Davis on Twitter, at @WendyDavisTexas.

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