Feminism: Filibuster Transcript (Part 2)

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© 2013, Ana Mardoll

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Texas Senate Session on June 25, 2013.
The Wendy Davis filibuster of Senate Bill 5.

Part 002
The history of SB5.

Public Domain video from Texas Senate public archives.
Transcript is the work of Ana Mardoll.



File Links:
Texas Senate Archive (Full) (.rm)
SB5-002-The History of SB5 (.mp4)
SB5-002-The History of SB5 (.mp3)
Transcript from Google Docs


[EDITOR’S NOTE: Notes may be added between lines to clarify points for readers. Words which are not understood by the transcriptionist will appear in-line but in square brackets.]


Senator Wendy Davis: The legislation before you has a history, as we talked about a moment ago. And I’m going to go specifically through the history of this particular bill. There was ample opportunity during the special session to move these pieces of legislation and some did move, but the will of the legislature did not propel them timely through the process. And here are the basics about what happened to each of those.

SB25 by Senator Hegar was the 20-week abortion bill, filed on March the 5th. It was referred to State Affairs on March the 12th. It never received a senate hearing. The house companion, House Bill 2364, by Representative Laubenberg was filed on March the 5th, referred to State Affairs on March the 11th, a hearing was held on April 10th, it was reported out of House State Affairs on May the 2nd. The bill was sent to house calendars on May the 7th, and it was never placed on the calendar.

SB97 by Senator Patrick regarding abortion-inducing drugs and regulations on the administration of those drugs was filed on November the 12th, it was referred to Health and Human Services on January 28th, and a senate hearing was held on February 26th. It was reported out of the Senate Health and Human Service Committee on March 28th, but it died on the senate intents calendar. And it died for the reason that I mentioned a moment ago: because a third of the members of this senate who represented voices who deserve to be heard prevented the bill from coming forward. There was no house companion to that bill.


Senator Wendy Davis: SB537 by Senator Deuell related to the regulation of abortion facilities, requiring that they all have a standard met for ambulatory surgical centers. That bill was filed on February 13th, it was referred to Health and Human Services on March 19th, excuse me, February 20th. There was a senate hearing on the bill on March 19th, it was reported out of committee on March 26th, and it died on the senate [intent] calendar. Again it died because a third of the members of this body made it so. There was no house companion filed to that bill.

SB98 by Senator Taylor related to hospital admitting privileges and the requirement that doctors who perform abortions have admitting privileges at a hospital within a certain distance. It was filed on March the 6th, it was referred to Health and Human Services Committee on March the 12th, the senate hearing was held on April the 16th, it was reported out of committee on April 22nd, and it died on the senate intent calendar for the reasons that I mentioned a moment ago: because a minority group of senators who represent voices across the state of Texas made it so. There was a house companion to that bill: HB2816 by Representative Burkett. It was filed on March the 7th, it was referred to House State Affairs on March 18th, the house hearing was held on March 27th, it was reported out of committee on April 24th, and sent to house calendars on April 26th, where it died.


Senator Wendy Davis: And how did we get here? Well, of course we were called to a special session. And, as I said, that session did not begin with the addition of this bill, it began with redistricting.

On June the 10th, Governor Perry added transportation funding to the call, and of course the Democrats in this chamber had indicated our intention that we would vote to advance that bill, were it placed before this one today. We understand that transportation is a priority. On June the 11th, these bills were filed; several bills were filed. Including also a bill by Senator Huffman, SB23, a bill again that the Democrats have indicated, were it taken up today before this bill, we would have joined our colleagues in passing it, because we believe it’s important.

Governor Perry, of course, on that day also expanded the special session to include legislation relating to the regulation of abortion procedures, providers, and facilities. He also spoke in support of that call, about the horrors of the national late-term abortion industry. He said that sadly some of those atrocities happen in our own state and in Texas we value all life, and we work to cultivate a culture that supports the birth of every child.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: On June 26th, one day after the filibuster, Texas executed its 500th death row inmate. The prisoner was a 52-year-old woman of color named Kimberly McCarthy. Her attorney had asked the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals to halt the execution on the grounds that black jurors were excluded from her trial by Dallas County prosecutors. 

In a statement issued following the execution of Kimberly McCarthy, attorney Levin said: "500 is 500 too many. I look forward to the day when we recognize that this pointless and barbaric practice, imposed almost exclusively on those who are poor and disproportionately on people of color, has no place in a civilized society." LINK: Death by Numbers]


Senator Wendy Davis: He said that we have an obligation to protect unborn children and to hold those who peddle abortions to standards that would minimize the death, disease, and pain that they cause. What he did not do was place on the call anything that would help to prevent unplanned pregnancies. What he did not do was place anything on the call that would aid women in making sure they never find themselves in need of the occasion that we meet here today to discuss.

On that same day the call was broadened again, the bills were referred and put on a fast track for hearing the following day, leaving little to no advance notice for a public hearing. But fortunately a procedural action forced the committee to wait an extra day – a tagging of the bill – allowing more Texans the opportunity to have their voices heard on these issues. Ultimately, the Republican leadership agreed to move only one bill on the Senate floor, and that was SB5 that is before us today.

Before bringing the bill up, there was discussion amongst the majority and the 20-week fetal pain portion of the bill was removed by Republicans before the bill was presented to us for our consideration on the floor. As you probably remember from that night, Democratic senators offered seventeen amendments to the bill on the senate floor to address concerns from stakeholders. Primarily to address concerns, again, the prevention of abortion is the surest way – excuse me. The prevention of pregnancy is the surest way to decrease the demand for abortion.


Senator Wendy Davis: Included in those amendments were a request that we accept Medicaid from the federal level, which we knew would bring down a tremendous amount of money and assistance for women’s health. Included in that was a full funding of the Women’s Health Program which provides a 90 to 10 match for uses of helping women who are in need of family planning services. But all of those amendments were rejected.

The bill was voted out on party lines and then moved over to the house. The bill was received by the house on June 20th, and was set for a public hearing the following day. The hearing also included HB16 which was the 20-week stand-alone bill, and HB60, the omnibus bill. Hundreds of Texans from all over the state appeared to testify at the hearings. But unfortunately the hearing – which lasted sometime until the wee hours of the morning, 3:30 to 4 o’clock – was halted before all of the testimony was given by those who had waited, many of them, from the prior morning to voice their feelings on the bill. And it is my intention today to give them a voice. By reading all of their testimonies on the senate floor.

In committee, SB5 was changed to include the section of the bill – the 20-week ban – that was removed in the senate, also HB60 and HB61. On the house floor there was minimal engagement and participation by the house author on the legislation.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: The “minimal engagement and participation by the house author” is, I believe, a reference to Representative Laubenberg who refused to take questions by the Democrats after she infamously stated that there was no need for an amended exception for cases of rape and/or incest because, “In an emergency room, they have what’s called a rape kit where a woman can get cleaned out,” adding that a rape kit is “equivalent to a D&C” abortion. Laubenberg refused to take questions after making this false and embarrassing statement, despite the Democrats pointing out that her refusal was unheard of and possibly a violation of house rules. LINK: A Sunday At The Capitol]

Senator Wendy Davis: House Ds offered thirteen amendments targeted at addressing concerns raised by stakeholders. All were rejected. And now we find ourselves here. This is the omnibus piece of legislation that contains these elements of bills that were filled in the 83rd session: the 20-week ban, the abortion-inducing drugs provision, the ambulatory surgical center standard, and the hospital admitting privileges. The alleged reason for the bill is to enhance patient safety. But what they really do is create provisions that treat women as though they are not capable of making their own medical decisions.

They weaken standards of care, because as we all know, every member on this floor, knows that the provisions of the ambulatory surgical center standards will immediately place 37 of the 42 abortion clinics in Texas out of compliance. And though the arguments on the senate floor were made that the reasons for those standards was for patient safety, not a single instance, not a SINGLE INSTANCE, could be demonstrated to illustrate why those ambulatory surgical standards were important in assuring women’s safety. Not a single example was provided where women had been provided a less safe atmosphere in the existing clinical setting today than they would receive in that setting.

What this bill really does is to threaten the doctor-patient relationship. And we know that we received a great deal of information from doctor’s groups, which I’ll read into the record in a little while, about the intrusion on that relationship and we know that in no other instance has this legislature chosen to place itself between a woman and her doctor, or any patient and their doctor. We know that these additional standards are unnecessary, they’re unsupported by scientific evidence, including unnecessary requirements that may be extremely difficult and in some cases impossible to meet, without a basis in public health and safety.

As we’ve been debating this issue, we have been reminded that there was a time in our country when only the wealthy could afford to access abortion services because they had the ability to travel to places where it was legal. And that women who didn’t have that access to care were relegated either to carrying a pregnancy to term, or – and very sadly – to some unsafe methods that they turned to to try to address that need. And we know that women lost their lives over that.


Senator Wendy Davis: We also know, in written testimonies from the group – the National Obstetrics and Gynecologic Group – that their fear is the same thing is going to happen. In the state of Texas, through this bill, we are asking that women be forced to step back in history, back to a time where once again wealthy women who have the ability and the flexibility in their lives and their schedules to travel for these services will be accommodated and women who will not will suffer a different and unfortunately probably in some instances a life-threatening consequence.


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