Texas Gov. Perry Calls Second Special Session on Abortion Bill; Filibuster Draws National Spotlight
June 27, 2013 — Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) on Wednesday called a second special session of the state Legislature to address an omnibus antiabortion-rights bill (SB 5) that Republicans failed to pass during this week's special session, the Texas Tribune reports. The 30-day session will begin on July 1 and also address proposals on transportation and sentences for capital murder (Root, Texas Tribune, 6/27).
SB 5 includes four abortion regulations that failed to progress in either chamber of the Legislature during the regular session: a ban on abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy unless a woman's life is in danger, a requirement that abortions be performed at an ambulatory surgical center, a mandate that physicians administer medication abortion drugs in person and a requirement that physicians who perform abortions have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles.
Republicans on Tuesday failed to pass the bill by a midnight deadline after state Sen. Wendy Davis (D) filibustered it for more than 10 hours and a crowd of abortion-rights supporters further stalled the voting (Women's Health Policy Report, 6/26).
Davis in an interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper on Wednesday said a second attempt at a filibuster is unlikely. "If [Republicans] are smarter about their time management going into this next called session, it's likely we won't have an opportunity to do this again," she said (MacLaggan, Reuters, 6/26). However, she added, "We empowered the voice of [the] people in Texas and people who wanted to stand against ... this big government intrusion, into their personal lives" (Smith/Sutton, CNN, 6/27).
Hours after the vote failed, Perry released a statement saying he would call a second special session "because too much important work remains undone." He said, "Texans value life and want to protect women and the unborn," adding, "We will not allow the breakdown of decorum and decency to prevent us from doing what the people of this state hired us to do."
Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst (R) added, "I congratulate Gov. Perry for his decision to call a second special session to address the issues derailed by the actions of an angry mob in the closing moments of the first" (Root, Texas Tribune, 6/26).
Supporters Comment on Filibuster, Protests
Planned Parenthood Action Fund President Cecile Richards in a statement said Perry "lost this fight in regular session, and even after they broke the rules he and his allies lost again in front of the entire country [Tuesday] night." She added, "They tried every trick in the book, blocking testimony from the very women whose lives would be affected, voting in the middle of the night, shutting down the debate -- they couldn't get this done because Texans would not let them" (CNN, 6/27).
NARAL Pro-Choice America President Ilyse Hogue in a statement said that Davis "inspired people across the country and showed us what a true pro-choice champion looks like." She added, "Outnumbered by anti-choice politicians in the Texas state Senate, yet supported by a galvanized crowd of protesters, Wendy stood victorious and made history in the fight to protect a woman's right to choose" (Sullivan, Washington Post, 6/26).
Abortion-Rights Supporters See Shift in Momentum
Abortion-rights supporters believe the repercussions of the "knock-down, drag-out Texas fight" could work in their favor in other states and at the federal level, Politico reports.
Judy Waxman -- vice president of health and reproductive rights at the National Women's Law Center -- said, "If this can happen in Texas, if this kind of resistance results in awareness in the nation, women will be heard," adding, "I think there are implications for every state and the federal government, as well."
EMILY's List's Jess McIntosh said, "I think [Tuesday] probably is one of the most galvanizing events that we have seen, but it is one of a string of them" (Glueck, Politico, 6/27).
Davis' Filibuster Puts Spotlight on Texas, New York Times Columnist Writes
A recent filibuster by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) about drones "was a walk in the park compared with what Davis went through," writes New York Times columnist Gail Collins.
Collins predicts that while the "anti-abortion bill will be back," the "protesters will undoubtedly be back, too." Meanwhile, "Texans are wondering if this could be a new era for a state that really hasn't been in the national eye for ages," she adds (Collins, New York Times, 6/26).