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People across the country tuned in, then tuned in some more, as Texas Republicans tried to put the next step in the War on Women into place on Tuesday, but were stopped by one woman and a crowd of her supporters. Republicans were trying to pass Senate Bill 5, an omnibus anti-abortion bill that would have shut down all but five abortion providers in the state. Hundreds of Texans had tried to testify against the same bill in the House, only to be shut down by Republicans. Then state Sen. Wendy Davis stood up for an epic talking filibuster.
If the state Senate did not vote on the bill on Tuesday, before a special session ended, it would be dead—for now. So Davis had to hold the floor for nearly 13 hours, until midnight. And, as word spread of what she was doing, she nearly succeeded. Texas operates on a three strikes and you're out system, and, just after 10 PM Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst ruled that she was off topic because she was talking about sonograms (and heaven knows those never enter into discussions about abortion). That made her third violation—her second one having been getting help to put on a back brace to enable her to keep standing.
Davis had to stop talking, and nearly two hours remained for the Senate to vote. But other Senate Democrats appealed and used parliamentary maneuvers to move the clock toward midnight. Then, in the final minutes, opponents of SB 5 in the gallery began cheering and shouting to drown out efforts to hold a vote:
And drown out the vote they did. One effort to hold the vote was impossible. The next could not be finished until after the midnight deadline. Though Republicans initially tried to insist that the vote had been held in time, ultimately they had to admit that it hadn't, and that despite their efforts, Wendy Davis and Texas Democrats and a gallery full of people who didn't want to see their rights taken away had succeeded in killing this bill. For now. Republicans are threatening another special session to try again. Because the War on Women's rights to their own bodies can never stop. But the fight for those rights won't stop, either.