Messing with Texas

A Federal Judge has ruled that the restrictions on reproductive rights passed by Texas – the ones Wendy Davis filibustered – are unConstitutional! Hooray!

Of course Texas Republican Attorney General and Governor-wannabe Greg Abbott (the guy behind Texas’s recently-passed sexist Voter ID law) is expected to file an emergency appeal to the 5th Circuit Court in New Orleans…

And these laws are specifically designed to make their way through the appellate system until one reaches the Supreme Court because anti-choicers think that’s the key to overturning Roe v. Wade…

And this ruling does not affect the part of the law that bans abortions after 20 weeks, because most abortions take place before that; or the part requiring that all abortions take place in an “ambulatory surgical center,” which means only 5 of Texas’s 42 abortion providers would be legal, because that part doesn’t go into effect until 2014…

But the rest of this terrible law was supposed to go into effect TOMORROW, and for the moment anyway, it looks like it won’t.

I’m taking my yays where I can get ’em!

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Wendy Davis’s Texas filibuster is the best movie we’ve seen in years.

(For a play-by-play leading up to this point, visit Vagina News on Facebook.) Davis’s filibuster continued until about 10PM local time, at which point an objection was raised by Republicans on the grounds that Davis’s discussion of mandatory ultrasounds (or sonograms, I’ve seen conflicting reports) was not germane to the bill, and Lt. Governor David Dewhurst sustained it. This triggered an eruption from the gallery and a flurry of procedural objections by Democrats as Davis was removed from the floor. 

Sen. Kirk Watson objected to Dewhurst’s ruling on the basis that Dewhurst had previously stated the third warning would followed be a vote of the Senate on whether to end Davis’s filibuster, but no vote occurred. Noisy debate continued, and at about 11, Sen. Robert Duncan announced that Democrats’ objections were overruled; Dems continued to raise parliamentary challenges, and the noise of the crowds within and beyond the gallery made order difficult. 

At one point,  Sen. Leticia Van de Putte  – who had been absent previously, as she was attending her father’s funeral – raised a Parliamentary Inquiry requesting information about the three warnings that ended the filibuster so she could cast an informed vote on the appeal, but Dewhurst refused to acknowledge her. This prompted her to ask, “At what point must a female senator raise her hand or her voice to be recognized over the male colleagues in the room?”, prompting fifteen minutes of cheering.

With 20 minutes left in the session, the Senate voted on Watson’s appeal of Dewhurst’s ruling on the third warning, and it was rejected. Duncan (who had taken over the podium from Dewhurst) moved to trigger a vote on the bill, and chaos erupted again. Despite Duncan’s efforts to restore order, the deafening noise continued for 10 minutes. Amidst the noise, Republicans claim they held a vote and passed the by 19-10 (or 17-12, accounts vary.) But the vote was so hard to hear and took place so close to midnight that there’s still no answer as to whether it met the legislative deadline. As of this moment, Senators are in caucus, debating whether or not the bill has been passed. 

For an alternate take on these events, here’s a good first-hand time line…

The outcome remains to be seen, but a few things are clear; Republicans have broken from their post-election contrition and commitment to win female voters, women are no longer willing to be passive witnesses to this strategy, and Wendy Davis is a superstar.