High drama in Texas last night as Texas State Senator Wendy Davis filibustered an abortion bill.
The bill 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 — a tall order in rural communities.
Davis’ filibuster started at 11:18 Tuesday morning and needed to go to midnight (1am EDT) in order to keep a vote from being held on the measure. The Texas Tribune provided a live stream, watched by hundreds of thousands, including me, as the events unfolded. I tuned in about 10:30pm, and remained glued to the stream through the rest. Twitter was as active as I’ve ever seen it be as people from around the world watched and commented. (A shame none of the networks had sense enough to pick this up and carry it.) I did go to bed around 2am, with the issue of whether a vote on the bill had taken place before or after the midnight deadline still up in the air.
It was clear from those watching that the vote took place after midnight, but the presiding officer, LG David Dewhurst, saying that it had not. His pals at the AP reported that it had passed, a position most journalists inside the chamber disputed. Lots of tweets showed the attempts to change the vote time so as to comply with the midnight deadline
This morning, I awakened to see that Dewhurst had changed his tune around 3am local time.
People are beginning to wake up to the fact that state and local politics is where the action is – and much more important to pay attention to than national stuff. Thanks to the enterprising Texas Tribune and social media, we were able to witness political theater, Texas style, last night.