Guerrilla War Politicking Saves the Day in Texas—This Time

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Well, Texas Republicans sure did try their darndest to get a 20-week cap on abortion rights last night, but it looks like they failed thanks to some “Occupy Wall Street” tactics used by the opposition.

If you missed all the political drama, I’ll update you: In a 30-day special session, Texas Senators were considering putting a ban on abortion after 20 weeks, something 12 other states have already managed to pass. But the ladies of Texas weren’t going down without a fight. Wendy Davis, a Democratic Senator, took the floor at 11:18 AM and spoke for a whopping 10 hours on abortion rights, a filibuster worthy of Rand Paul’s nod of respect (you know, if he was chill with abortion, but that’s a minor detail).

Davis was under filibuster restrictions tighter than an 18th century corset. For 10 hours, Davis had to remain standing and speak entirely on topic without leaning on her desk, and if she strayed more than three times from the rules, the filibuster would end.

It was precisely whether Davis had violated those rules that was under debate around the 12:00 mark last night. As the Senate descended into chaos (at least, as much chaos as there can be under Robert’s Rules of Order), Republicans attempted to push the bill through anyway and took a vote that “passed” the bill 19 to 10. A crushing blow to abortion rights advocates.

BUT WAIT! Democrats claimed that the vote was taken at 12:02 or 12:03 AM, meaning that the legislative session was officially over and the vote was null. They also claimed that they had been misled about the nature of the vote, thinking they were voting on the rules violation and not the bill itself. Republicans refuted both claims. More calmly organized chaos ensued.

Finally, around 3 AM, quite possibly because he just wanted to get the fuck out of there and go to bed, Lt. Governor said that “With all the ruckus and noise going on,” he couldn’t cross all the T’s and dot all the I’s necessary to make the bill into law. Opponents of the bill say it could not have been passed because the stamp would have read past midnight.

So, much like the famous Rand Paul filibuster of olde, we see once again how guerrilla politicking can be used to preserve liberty (if you believe abortion rights are a component of liberty, which this author thinks is certainly arguable). The victory is likely to be short lived, but bodily autonomy has lived to fight another day, and that is something worth celebrating.