Wendy Davis Abortion Filibuster Suspended by GOP Lawmakers

Texas’ lieutenant governor suspended a senator’s filibuster against wide-ranging abortion restrictions.

Though a filibuster was suspended, Democrats moved quickly to appeal the decision and set off a parliamentary fight over the rules. Photo: KUT Austin – 90.5 FM/Flickr

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst desided that Sen. Wendy Davis strayed off the issue when speaking of a sonogram bill passed two years ago and how the new abortion laws only compounded the anti-abortion bills in the state of Texas.

Democrats immediately criticized the decision and set off a heated debate. Austin Democratic Sen. Kirk Watson appeared to be positioning himself to launch a new filibuster on Dewhurst’s decision.

As reports claim, Davis began the sitting with a one-woman filibuster to block a GOP-led effort to impose additional abortion restrictions across Texas.

Davis said she was “rising on the floor today to humbly give voice to thousands of Texans” and called Republican efforts to pass the bill a “raw abuse of power.”

The filibuster began at 11:18 a.m. Tuesday and continued until 10:03 p.m., just two hours before the deadline marking the end of the 30-day special session.

During 6 house anti-abortion lawmakers twice questioned Davis about the bill, voicing their arguments that it would protect women or that abortions were wrong. Davis answered their questions but did not give up control of the floor.

“This is really about women’s health,” said Sen. Bob Deuell, who introduced a requirement that all abortions take place in surgical centers. “Sometimes bad things can happen.”

Davis questioned then why vasectomies and colonoscopies aren’t also required to take place in such clinics. “Because I’ve been unable to have a simple question answered to help me understand how this would lead to better care for women, I must question the underlying motive for doing so.”

If the bill is passed it would ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy and force many clinics that offer the procedure to upgrade their facilities and be classified as ambulatory surgical centers.

Which is more, doctors would be required to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles – a tall order in rural communities, The Huffington Post reports.

“If this passes, abortion would be virtually banned in the state of Texas, and many women could be forced to resort to dangerous and unsafe measures,” said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund and daughter of the late former Texas governor Ann Richards.

Sen. Dan Patrick said the Democrats never should have been allowed to put Republicans “in a box” and complained that many in the Senate GOP were “flying by the seat of their pants.”

The debates featured lawmakers insisting that the new rules are so draconian that women who don’t want to become mothers will be forced to head to Mexico to have abortions.

At one point, the bill’s sponsor, Republican Rep. Jodie Laubenberg of Spring, suggested that emergency room rape kits could be used to terminate pregnancies.

At the moment at least 10 states of the country have approved similar laws, with those in Arizona and Idaho declared unconstitutional by federal courts.

“These late-term abortions are incredibly, incredibly painful” for the fetus, Republican Representative Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee said during floor debate. “The American public is with us on this.”

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