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After Texas Sen. Wendy Davis' abortion filibuster, governor steps in

June 26, 2013|By Matt Pearce | This post has been updated and corrected, as indicated below.
  • State Sen. Wendy Davis dons a back support belt given to her by colleagues during her seventh hour of filibustering during the final day of the legislative special session, as the Texas Senate considers an abortion bill in Austin.
State Sen. Wendy Davis dons a back support belt given to her by colleagues… (Louis DeLuca / MCT )

Wendy Davis beat the clock, but she hasn't beaten the calendar.

On Wednesday afternoon, Texas Gov. Rick Perry called a second special session for the state's Legislature to pass strict abortion restrictions that state Sen. Davis and her Democratic allies defeated about 14 hours earlier in an against-the-clock filibuster.

"I am calling the Legislature back into session because too much important work remains undone for the people of Texas," Perry said in a statement.

"Through their duly elected representatives, the citizens of our state have made crystal clear their priorities for our great state," Perry continued. "Texans value life and want to protect women and the unborn. ... We will not allow the breakdown of decorum and decency to prevent us from doing what the people of this state hired us to do."

Perry was referring to the chaos that descended on the state's Legislature late Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning.

Taking advantage of procedural rules during a previous special session of the Legislature, Davis stalled a vote on a restrictive abortion bill in the Republican-dominated senate by talking for 13 hours straight.

As the clock approached midnight -- the Cinderella moment in which the Legislature's special session would legally dissolve -- confusion reigned in the Senate's chambers after shouting by pro-choice protesters confused senators attempting to push through the bill with a vote before the witching hour.

A 17-12 vote to limit abortions to the first 20 weeks of a pregnancy, among other restrictions, failed to beat the clock, and the state's Democrats won a brief reprieve.

The new special session is set to begin at 2 p.m. Monday.

Perry said the Legislature was expected to consider the abortion limits as well as funding of transportation infrastructure projects and legislation considering mandatory life sentences, with parole, for capital felonies committed by 17-year-olds.

[Updated, 3:34 p.m. PDT, June 26: Kyleen Wright, president of the Texans for Life Coalition, was at the capitol all night and cheered the governor's decision to call a special session, saying Davis had not triumphed.

"I hope her national profile takes her someplace else in the nation -- she doesn't speak for me," Wright told the Los Angeles Times, dismissing Davis as "a pretty face" and the protesters as part of the "Obama machine."

"She's not distracting us," Wright said of Davis, promising to mobilize more antiabortion activists in support of the legislation this time around. "What you'll see is a concerted effort by senate Republicans with no showboats out front. We are not going to be pushed around by Obama."

In a statement, Lt. Governor David Dewhurst, a Republican, praised Perry for calling another session after the first was "derailed by the actions of an angry mob."

"I look forward to seeing the members of the Legislature on July 1 as we once again take up our charge to advocate for all of Texas and put the finishing touches on one of the most successful sessions in decades," Dewhurst said."]

Some legislators were already responding to the news on Twitter, with conservatives excited to return.

[For the record, 3:32 p.m., June 26: A previous version of this post incorrectly stated the Texas senate's vote to limit abortions. The senate voted 17-12, not 17-2.]


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