6 key moments from Wendy Davis’ filibuster

Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis (D) filibustered for 11 hours Tuesday night, helping kill (at least temporarily) a bill that would have implemented some of the most stringent abortion restrictions in the country. Her marathon speaking session, and the protests and political confusion it inspired, have attracted attention in the U.S. Senate and at Organizing for Action, the non-profit formed to help President Obama.

Missed it? Here are the highlights, video courtesy of the Texas Tribune.

1. Davis back brace sparks GOP objection.

Under the quirky rules of the filibuster in Texas, filibustering lawmakers cannot rely on food, drink, or any physical support. They cannot sit, lean on the desk, take any breaks or go off-topic. Davis prepared by wearing pink tennis shoes, but Republicans protested when a colleague tried to help her with a back brace. That point of order was sustained by a vote; three warnings kill a filibuster.

2. Anti-abortion protester escorted out.

Early on in Davis' filibuster, a protester who loudly compared abortion to genocide was escorted out of the Senate chamber by police.

3. Third strike against Davis sustained.

Three sustained points of order end a filibuster, and around 9:30 p.m. a Republican lawmaker successfully argued that Davis was off-topic in talking about a sonogram law that passed in 2011. (Her first strike was for discussing Planned Parenthood's budget.) The crowd reacted in anger.

4. Chaos as abortion bill fails.

Around 10 p.m., Dewhurst found that Davis's filibuster was in violation of the rules. The crowd erupted in protests, chanting, "Let her speak."

A vote was held, but the loud protests made it hard to tell what had happened and when.  Meanwhile, Democratic lawmakers used parliamentary tactics to delay the legislation.

Amid the confusion, Dewhurst failed to sign the bill by the midnight deadline. The state Senate Web site showed that the vote was originally logged as taking place on June 26 -- past the deadline -- although it was later updated to show a vote on June 25.

“An unruly mob, using Occupy Wall Street tactics, disrupted the Senate from protecting unborn babies,” he said early Wednesday morning.

5. Another angle.

6. Victorious protesters cheer.

After 11 hours of filibuster -- and two hours of debate over whether the filibuster was still valid -- supporters of Davis greeted her with cheers.

"Today was democracy in action,” Davis told the crowd. “And you all are the reason that happened, you all were the voices we were speaking from today from the floor, and we are so proud as a group of Democrat senators to have represented your interests on this issue today.”

Rachel Weiner covers cops and courts in Arlington and Alexandria.
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Sean Sullivan | June 26, 2013