Unless you live in a cave or get your news from a major news network, you know about the historic events last night in Texas. In short, Texas Democrats rallied around Senator Wendy Davis, who launched an incredible ten-hour filibuster to stop the passage of SB5, a bill which would effectively shut down all but five of Texas’s abortion clinics.
SB5 is the latest legislative attempt to circumvent Roe v. Wade, following attempts by Kansas, Arkansas, and North Dakota. Since legislators cannot outlaw abortion outright, these laws include arbitrary limitations to make it impossible for abortion clinics to exist. Burnt Orange Report succinctly explains that SB5 would make any abortion illegal at or after 20 weeks with no rape or incest exception, require every doctor to have “hospital-admitting privileges within 30 miles of every [abortion] clinic where they practice,” require each woman to have two in-person doctor visits before she can get an abortion, and stipulates that every single abortion provider must be “licensed as an ambulatory surgery center,” which alone comes with a price tag of about $1 million per clinic.
Luckily, there are actual American heroes like Senator Wendy Davis and the Democratic senators who stopped SB5 from being jammed through. According to Slate:
Davis knew that if she could talk from around 11 a.m. until after midnight, the special session would run out and the bill would die. She went for most of that time, until Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst cut her off, declaring her discussion of mandatory ultrasounds (which were passed in a previous bill) off-limits. With Davis sidelined, Democrats then used procedural motions to successfully stall the vote until 11:45 p.m., at which point the protesters that had filled the Capitol building erupted into shouts and cheers in an effort to stall the voting.
This is when something amazing happened. Senator Leticia R. Van de Putte had the floor and calmly asked:
“Mr. President, parliamentary inquiry. At what point must a female senator raise her hand or her voice to be recognized over the male colleagues in the room?”
The senate chamber erupted into uncontrollable cheering of the assembled constituents–they shouted “Let her speak!,” “Wendy!,” and “Shame on you!” as the presiding officer and professional asshole David Dewhurst tried to get control of the room. The Republican senators tried every protocol-based tactic to end Senator Davis’s filibuster (see, back brace), but they couldn’t stop the chanting crowd who screamed their heads off until 12:01AM, effectively stopping the vote. Then the Republican senators tried to have a vote at 12:03AM, which was declared to be illegal (obviously), and Senator Davis’ filibuster was a success. It was seriously one of the most amazing events I’ve ever witnessed.
However, if you were watching CNN, FoxNews, ABCNews, or MSNBC, you missed it. Precisely zero of these networks provided any live coverage or footage of the filibuster. In a glaringly obvious show of how typical news organizations are completely useless, twitter won the night with it’s coverage from inside the senate chambers, and the Texas Tribune provided a live feed of the proceedings. CNN, FoxNews, ABCNews, and MSNBC featured, at most, one article each during the proceedings, typically announcing that Senator Davis intended to filibuster. There was no live coverage of the events at all. Instead, here are six stories the major networks ran on their websites as some version of “latest news” while the rest of us watched the world change.