This post comes to us from José Andrés Araiza, an Austin resident and board member for Equality Texas:
Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst labeled us “an unruly mob using Occupy tactics.” I call our actions nothing short of a historic expression of democratic principals.
On the morning of June 25, Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis began a 13-hour filibuster of Senate Bill 5. The bill would have eliminated abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy and required all abortions be initiated in what amounts to surgical centers. This bill would force the closure of all but a handful of abortion providers in the second biggest state in the union. Women in rural areas would have to drive hundreds of miles to exercise their right to have an abortion.
At 11:18 a.m., Sen. Davis began her filibuster. Her goal was to keep talking until midnight to essentially kill the bill during a special session of the Texas Legislature. No bathroom breaks. No leaning on her desk. No sitting. Gov. Rick Perry put abortion as one of the many issues for lawmakers to address during the session.
Shortly after 10:30 p.m., Texas Republican senators used a series of parliamentary tactics to forcibly end Sen. Davis’ filibuster. Democrats in turn used a series of tactics to delay a vote on SB 5 but their tactics were running out as 11:45 p.m. approached.
I sat in the Senate gallery looking directly at Sen. Davis and her democratic colleagues. I will never forget the desperate look on those lawmakers’ faces. The filibuster had come so far and only 15 minutes remained. They were staring right at us. We knew something had to be done to kill SB 5.
But what could the citizens seated in the gallery do? We aren’t lawmakers. We were a group of men and women, grandparents, students and professionals. Voters elected the people below us to debate and decide legislation like SB 5.