Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Abortion filibusterer a star but a new vote looms

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AUSTIN, Texas -- The Texas state senator who stood and spoke for hours against some of the country's toughest proposed abortion restrictions quickly became a political superstar in pink running shoes. But the governor made sure Wednesday the fight isn't over.

Lawmaker Wendy Davis needed last-minute help from shrieking supporters to run out the clock on the special session of the state Legislature and kill the bill, but her old-fashioned filibuster speech earned her widespread praise -- including a salute from U.S. President Barack Obama.

But Gov. Rick Perry on Wednesday called for the Texas legislature to meet in a second special session July 1 to pass the abortion restrictions. The Republican governor can call as many as 30-day extra sessions as he likes.

Davis, 50, was on her feet for more than 12 hours Tuesday -- actively speaking most of that time while obeying rules against not sitting, leaning or taking breaks for meals or the restroom -- in a marathon speech seeking to block a bill that would close nearly every abortion clinic in the nation's second-largest state.

As a midnight deadline loomed and the rare Democrat in a heavily Republican state continued to talk, political junkies from the U.S. and elsewhere tuned in online, and Davis' followers on Twitter ballooned from around 1,200 to more than 79,000.

Suddenly, photos of the running shoes were everywhere, and StandWithWendy was trending.

Obama's official Twitter account posted: "Something special is happening in Austin tonight."

Davis' speech ultimately lasted about 11 hours before Republicans complained she had strayed off topic and cut her off. But that action prompted a lengthy debate and deafening protests from hundreds of abortion-rights activists in the gallery that spilled past the midnight deadline.

"Thanks to the powerful voices of thousands of Texans, SB5 is dead," Davis tweeted Wednesday morning. "An incredible victory for Texas women and those who love them."

The bill would ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy -- a move other conservative-leaning states are making as they try to challenge the landmark 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision that made abortion legal. The bill also would close almost every abortion clinic in Texas, a vast state of 26 million people.

 

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 27, 2013 A16

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