Controversial Texan restrictive abortion bill fails after marathon filibuster speech by Senator Wendy Davis leads to hours of confusion and furious protests

Numerous twists and turns as bill appears to run out of time, then gets passed, before it is later 'killed off' by officials who failed to sign it in time
  • @johnmatthewhall

A controversial bill that would have massively restricted access to abortion in Texas has been rendered moot after a marathon filibuster speech led to hours of confusion and furious protests.

The Texas state senate had been debating the highly restrictive abortion bill when Senator Wendy Davis took to the stand intending to speak for 13 hours non-stop, in an effort to top the vote taking place before the midnight deadline.

10 hours into her marathon speech - during which taking a toilet break, sitting down and even leaning on the desk were prohibited - Republican Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst ruled that Ms Davis had deviated from the debate by referring to a previous abortion bill in 2011 and suspended her filibuster.

The ensuing argument over the suspension took an additional hour and, with the clock ticking into the final minutes before midnight, supporters of Ms Davis began chanting in an effort to stop the vote getting started.

Loud celebrations erupted in the senate at the stroke of midnight, but the cheers turned to cries of “shame” as it emerged the vote actually had been passed in the minutes after 12am.

The resultant anger led to State Troopers being sent into the senate, and there are reports of at least one woman being arrested.

Yet another twist came at 3am however, when Mr Dewhurst admitted that, although the vote passed by 19 votes to 10, it could not be signed in the presence of the Senate and was therefore considered to be dead.

Blaming “all the ruckus and noise… [caused by] an unruly mob using Occupy Wall Street tactics”, Mr Dewhurst added that he had been unable to complete his administrative duties to sign the vote and make it official.

Democrats argued that the real reason for the about turn was the time stamp on the official documents showed the following day’s date, proving the vote had actually taken place in the minutes after midight.

The Legislature’s official website originally appeared to back up the Democrats’ version of events, stating the vote was carried on Wednesday, but it was later changed to Tuesday for unknown reasons.