On the Wednesday, June 26th, A Public Affair host Tim Hansel discussed the dramatic filibuster and protests in the Texas Capitol that began with a one-woman filibuster yesterday and ended with a massive crowd overwhelming lawmakers and killing an anti-abortion bill.
During the first half of the hour, we spoke to Becca Aaronson, a reporter for the Texas Tribune. The Tribune is an independent online media outlet which streamed the event live on their website and on YouTube, which drew upwards of 170,000 viewers throughout the night. Aaronson was on the scene at the Capitol until the wee hours and described specifically what happened, beginning with the filibuster by Democratic Senator Wendy Davis.
As Texas parliamentary rules place a time limit on Senate sessions, Davis had to speak for 13 hours straight – until midnight – to kill the proposed anti-choice bill. However, also according to Texas parliamentary rules, Senator Davis was not allowed to lean against anything, eat, drink, or speak on any issue except the bill during this time. The Capitol slowly filled up with citizens protesting the bill and showing their support of Davis, in a scene reminiscent of Madison’s Capitol protests in 2011. At about ten to midnight, when the Republicans attempted to push a last-minute vote, they were literally drowned out by the roar of the crowd occupying the Capitol in a ten-minute long “citizen filibuster”. In the chaos and confusion of midnight, the vote was eventually held. However, because the bill was not passed before midnight, it was effectively killed.
Heather Busby, executive director of NARAL Pro-choice Texas, joined us during the second half of the hour. Her organization worked to help stop the anti-abortion bill and helped stage some of the Capitol protests. The effects of the bill, if it had been passed, would have been to shut down 37 of the 42 abortion clinics in Texas and ban abortions after 20 weeks. In combination with requiring a sonogram and other restrictions that already exist in the state, the proposed Senate Bill 5 would make it nearly impossible, or at least extremely difficult, for a woman to receive an abortion in Texas.
Listen to the entire show here: