Washington state-based Texas blogger Alexis J. Kostun was in Austin this week, and protested and camped at the Texas legislature during the mixture of debacle and triumph concerning the Texas GOP’s attempt to pass the most oppressive anti-abortion legislation in decades. Kostun got “a better crash course in House & Senate rules, proceedings, and norms, than I ever could have imagined”, and reported it on her blog here.
The bill would have
effectively shut down 37 of Texas’ 42 clinics, leaving only five open to service a state where getting from one corner to the next is a 14 hour drive. There would no longer be clinics in rural or border areas, leaving women with limited and strained financial resources to drive from El Paso to San Antonio for an abortion. Because of the sonogram bill passed in 2011, they will have to take several days off of work (or leave and return) to fulfill the 24 hour waiting period between the sonogram and abortion. The cost of an abortion in Texas would skyrocket from about $400 to about $1,200. Add the cost of transportation and hotel for the waiting period plus the cost of lost income, many women would be nowhere close to affording an abortion.
However, the new heroine of the Democratic Party and reproductive rights advocates, Wendy Davis (whose offices have been firebombed by right-wing extremists in the past) filibustered the bill for eleven hours. It is here where the mainstream media committed countless mishaps and misstatements about what actually happened–culminating with the announcements, typified by this CBS News tweet, that the filibuster had been broken and the bill had passed. “Texas Republicans pass strict new abortion curbs,” CBS aloofly reported, “overcoming long filibuster, and chaos in Senate chamber as deadline neared.” (Several people pointed out that the Texas Observer got it right all along.)
In fact, Kostun (and tens of thousands of others) were there, and that’s not what happened. On her blog, she reports on the controversy as to whether Davis committed three violations of filibuster rules (ultimately concluding that David did not), and more importantly, that the bill was called to a vote after midnight, in violation of the rules.
The Senate clerk wrote down that the real vote did not start until 12:03am, but Senate Republicans actually went back and changed the time stamp on the vote in the official record. Luckily for us, over 100K people were watching the live feed, and someone leaked this photograph:
There might be a second special session, and we’ll deal with that when and if it happens, but this should be one HUGE message to our legislature: You don’t mess with Texas women.
As we were finishing up this post, CBS News reported that Texas Governor Rick Perry has called a second special session to pass the bill–on July 1. The hope is obviously that many, many times more Texas citizens will show up for what will ultimately need to be a people’s filibuster.
You can read and follow all of Alexis J. Kostun’s posts here.