Don’t mess with Texas.
The debate currently taking place in Texas over the bill that would effectively leave the state with only 5 clinics, meaning 37 would be forced to close their doors and severely limit access to abortion, is getting more heated as time goes by. On Thursday, hundreds of people gathered in the state’s capitol, Austin, and waited through the early hours of the morning in an effort to create a ‘people’s filibuster’ that involved them testifying against the bill. Those who signed up to testify waited up to 12 hours to state their objections to the bill in their three-minute time slots. Although they spoke until 3 a.m., there were attempts to end the public testimony — namely by Rep. Byron Cook who said that the testimonies had become “repetitive.”
On Monday, Republicans in the Texas house passed a package of abortion restrictions including banning abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy, requiring doctors to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, and limiting abortions to surgical centers. House Democrats attempted to stall the vote long enough for a filibuster to take place to kill the bill, but the measure passed 95-34. Democrats in the house did the best they could to stall the vote, even succeeding in stalling it for 15 hours on Sunday night through Monday morning with talking points that included technical mistakes in the process and working to add amendments that would fundamentally alter the bill.
As if you weren’t feeling uncomfortable enough with the politicians who are working to see that this measure passes through the senate and makes it to Governor Rick Perry’s desk, Rep. Jody Laubenberg, amidst the heated debate, explained the reason she does not support the use of rape kits: she believes that rape kits are a form of abortion. For reference, RAINN defines a rape kit – or sexual assault collection kit, sexual assault forensic evidence kit, sexual offense evidence collection kit, or physical evidence recovery kit – as something that the victim of a sexual assault can utilize after the aforementioned assault in order to collect any DNA evidence that may have been left by the assailant. Trained professionals handle the kit from that point forward in order to maintain the integrity of the kit so that it may be used later as evidence in court. Rape kits are not abortions. I repeat: rape kits are not abortions.
But that’s all in the past. This is all happening in hyper-speed, and today Senator Wendy Davis of Dallas-Fort Worth began a 13-hour filibuster to stop the bill from passing through the state Senate. The bill must be voted on by midnight today in order to pass. Davis began the filibuster by exclaiming,
“I’m rising on the floor today to humbly give voice to thousands of Texans who have been ignored… These voices have been silenced by a governor who made blind partisanship and personal political ambition the official business of our great state.”
In the meantime, pro-choice activists are speaking out and speaking truth to power via social media, including through the #SB5 hashtag on Twitter: