Texas abortion bill dies after filibuster, chaos
(CNN) - The Texas legislature’s special session ended in chaos and confusion early Wednesday, when a marathon filibuster failed but so did a Republican effort to pass a bill that would have greatly restricted abortions in the state.
The Republican-dominated Senate needed to vote “yea” on the bill by midnight to send it to the governor to sign into law.
But at 3 a.m., Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst stepped to the Senate floor to declare the bill dead and the special session over.
And thus ended a night of intense drama that both sides of the abortion debate followed breathlessly, in large part to cheer — or jeer — the efforts of a lone lawmaker who talked for 10 straight hours to run out the clock.
Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis tried Tuesday to block the abortion bill by attempting a 13-hour filibuster, but fell short by about three hours when the chairman ruled she had gone off topic.
The packed gallery of the session erupted in boos. And for 15 minutes — as the clocked ticked toward 12 a.m. — their raucous chants and shouts of “Shame, shame, shame” drowned out the proceedings.
Although it wasn’t immediately apparent to onlookers, the disruption prevented lawmakers from completing their vote by the official end of the session — killing the bill.
“There were attempts to shove every rule aside in order to try to cram this vote through, and the voices of the people who were in the Capitol gallery tonight could not be silenced, and it simply didn’t allow the vote to be taken in time,” Davis said early Wednesday.
It took until shortly after 3 a.m. to declare the session over, in what a spokesman for one lawmaker called an unprecedented ending.
“I have been here 18 years and have never seen anything like this,” Jeremy Warren, spokesman for Democratic state Sen. Rodney Ellis, said before the session ended.
Gov. Rick Perry may ask for another session to reconsider the bill.
“The governor reserves the right to call the legislature back into special session anytime during the interim,” a statement from his office said.
Still, Planned Parenthood cheered the victory.
“This fight showed once again that we are all better off when women and their doctors — not politicians — are the ones making medical decisions,” Cecile Richards, the president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, said. “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.”