The notion of the little guy battling powerful institutions is one of the strongest myths Americans share — and anyone staying up late Tuesday night saw those forces in action on the floor of the Texas Legislature. With a firm majority determined to pass a law that, in effect, would eliminate the ability of most women to seek an abortion in Texas, state Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, announced her intention to filibuster.
And so she did, standing — no breaks for the bathroom, no leaning, no straying off topic — talking for 11 hours straight so that the Republican majority could not vote to pass the bill. Her monumental effort, though, was nearly foiled close to midnight, when Republican Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst ruled the teen mom turned senator had strayed off topic. In Texas, the filibuster talk has to be continual and about the bill on the floor, nothing else. His ruling ended Davis’ stall tactics with enough time to allow a vote, which was sure to be favorable, given the politics of the Texas Legislature. That’s when things really became interesting. Some 400 protesters had filled the Texas Capitol, and starting at 11:45 p.m. the crowd began what it termed “a people’s filibuster,” making so much noise that a vote was impossible. Because Davis stood firm and because so many people stood with her in solidarity, abortion remains legal in Texas — at least for now. Despite a push by the Republican majority to say the bill had passed, it was clear when the dust settled Wednesday that the measure had not made its midnight deadline.
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