Abortion legislation fails in Texas Senate


In the very last minutes of the last day of the special session, a combined effort from Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, democratic senators and activists in the Senate Chamber gallery prevented abortion legislation from passing in the special session.

"The constitutional time for the first called special session has expired," Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst said. "Senate Bill 5 cannot be called at this time in the presence of the senate."

Despite the victory for pro-choice activists and Democrats, Texas Gov. Rick Perry could still call another special session. If he wishes, he can place abortion legislation on the agenda.

Initial reports from media outlets such as The Associated Press said Senate Bill 5, the bill on abortion legislation, passed. The abortion legislation, or Senate Bill 5, would have placed a ban on abortions after 20 weeks. It would also have placed many restrictions on abortion clinics across the state. Many have claimed these restrictions would close the majority of Texas abortion clinics and centers.

As the night went on, more and more reports on Twitter seemed to hint that the bill failed to pass before midnight. 

There were many confusing moments in the final two hours of the first special session of the 83rd legislature. Senators debated rules and made many parlimentary inquiries. Even Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, who has described herself as strongly "pro-life," made several challenges and attempted to stall for time. 

In the last ten minutes, the gallery of the Senate Chamber began to scream and chant, creating confusion in the chamber. It quickly became too loud to hear. Roll calls were made in the last minutes. One of the roll calls was still ongoing after midnight, which was when the special session ended and the abortion legislation was supposed to die. It was this that ultimately resulted in Senate Bill 5's death. 

Shortly after midnight, the Texas Tribune tweeted screenshots showing that records on the time of the vote of Senate Bill 5 changed from Wednesday, June 26 to Tuesday, June 25. After almost an hour of speculation and false reports, rallies and protestors gathered outside the Capitol and Senate Chamber, and doubts began to rise against Senate Bill 5's passage. Several lawmakers, including Sen. Watson, D-Austin, seemed optimistic.

Senator John Whitmire, D-Houston, called a caucus of the Senate behind closed doors. Shortely after this meeting was called, reports began to emerge that Senate Bill 5 had failed.

It was not until shortly after 3 a.m. that Dewhurst officially and publicly addressed senators, saying the legislation had failed and died. However, he hinted that lawmakers would be back.

"It has been fun but, uh, see you soon," Dewhurst said, before banging the gravel.

The Senate also failed to pass legislation on transportation funding and sentencing rules for 17-year-olds who are found guilty of capital murder charges.

Correction: This article has been updated with the correct date of the filibuster debate. 

See our previous article on abortion legislation here and our liveblog of the events here.