Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, speaks as she begins a filibuster in an effort to kill an abortion bill on June 25 in Austin, Texas.(Photo: Eric Gay, AP)
A vote on a Texas bill that would severely curtail abortion rights in the state descended into chaos in the early hours of Wednesday morning as lawmakers said the final vote missed a midnight deadline.
Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst said Republicans missed their deadline to pass new abortion restrictions after protesters screamed down lawmakers as the final 15 minutes passed before the special legislative session's deadline. Dewhurst said on Wednesday morning that the abortion bill did not pass.
Democratic Sen. Wendy Davis, an opponent of the bill, spent most of Tuesday staging an old-fashioned filibuster - using a marathon speech to delay a final vote on the legislation. Her efforts, along with those of hundreds of protesters, thwarted Republican attempts to push through the legislation.
Republicans voted to end the filibuster minutes before midnight.
The bill, known as SB 5, would ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy and force many clinics that perform the procedure to upgrade their facilities and be classified as ambulatory surgical centers. Also, doctors would be required to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles.
If signed into law, the measures would close almost every abortion clinic in Texas, a state 773 miles wide and 790 miles long with 26 million people. A woman living along the Mexico border or in West Texas would have to drive hundreds of miles to obtain an abortion. The law's provision that abortions be performed at surgical centers means only five of Texas' 42 abortion clinics are currently designated to remain in operation.