News / USA

    Marathon Speech Helps Democrats Block Texas Abortion Bill

    Democratic members cheer as the Texas Senate tries to bring an abortion bill to a vote as time expires, in Austin, Texas, June 26, 2013.Democratic members cheer as the Texas Senate tries to bring an abortion bill to a vote as time expires, in Austin, Texas, June 26, 2013.
    x
    Democratic members cheer as the Texas Senate tries to bring an abortion bill to a vote as time expires, in Austin, Texas, June 26, 2013.
    Democratic members cheer as the Texas Senate tries to bring an abortion bill to a vote as time expires, in Austin, Texas, June 26, 2013.
    Reuters
    Texas Democrats blocked a drive for new state abortion restrictions on Wednesday, after a marathon speech in the capitol caused some Republican supporters of the bill to cast votes past a midnight deadline.

    Democratic Senator Wendy Davis spoke for more than 10 hours on Tuesday in a bid to run out the voting window on a measure that would place a ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

    Republican Governor Rick Perry, a strong opponent of abortion, could still revive the proposal by calling the legislature into a new special session.

    Davis's filibuster attempt stalled about two hours ahead of the deadline over a complaint that she had violated rules. The Republican-controlled Senate then began voting on the bill, amid protests from spectators.

    Republican Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst, after meeting with lawmakers, said some of their votes came in after midnight local time, the effective end of the 30-day special session.

    Dewhurst bemoaned the “unruly mob” at the capitol, according to the Dallas Morning News.

    The bill called for stricter standards for abortion clinics.

    Republican backers said it would protect women's health and that the ban on late-term abortions would protect fetuses, based on disputed research that suggests fetuses feel pain by 20 weeks of development.

    Opponents said it would force nearly all Texas abortion clinics to close or be rebuilt.

    “This fight showed once again that we are all better off when women and their doctors - not politicians - are the ones making medical decisions,” said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund. “We made history tonight, but we know this isn't the end of the fight to protect women's access to health care in Texas.”

    Davis, who began speaking at 11:15 a.m. local time, was prevented by procedural rules from deviating off-topic or taking a break by eating, leaning against her desk, sitting down or using the rest room.

    Republicans tried to disrupt her by charging that she had meandered off-topic; this included a protest when a colleague of Davis's helped her to adjust a back brace.

    Davis whittled away chunks of time by reading testimony and  messages from women and others decrying the legislation, reciting previously suggested changes to the bill and tapping into her own past as a single mother at 19.

    She said the bill would have choked off her own access to a local Planned Parenthood clinic.

    “I was a poor, uninsured woman, whose only care was provided through that facility. It was my medical home,” said Davis, 50, several hours into her speech.

    Lieutenant Governor Dewhurst, who is Senate president, suspended the filibuster after about 10 hours, to cries of “let her speak” from supporters.

    Democrats appealed the ruling, sparking a disagreement over parliamentary rules.

    After the session, Davis said on social media: “An incredible victory for Texas women and those who love them.”

    Nationwide debate

    The U.S. Supreme Court legalized abortion nationwide in 1973, but conservative states have enacted laws in recent years that seek to place restrictions on the procedure, especially on abortions performed late in pregnancy.

    Twelve states have passed 20-week bans, including two states where the bans take effect later this year, according to the Center for Reproductive Rights. Courts have blocked the bans in three of the 12 states - Arizona, Georgia and Idaho.

    Earlier this month, the Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill banning abortions 20 weeks after fertilization. The measure is extremely unlikely to become law because Democrats control the U.S. Senate and the White House.

    The Texas proposal would allow exemptions for abortions to save a woman's life, and in cases of severe fetal abnormalities.

    “In Texas, we value all life, and we've worked to cultivate a culture that supports the birth of every child,” said Perry.

    The abortion debate simmers elsewhere in the United States.

    North Dakota's only abortion clinic filed a federal challenge on Tuesday to a new state law, the most restrictive in the country, that would ban procedures to end pregnancy once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, as early as six weeks.

    A Philadelphia jury last month convicted abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell of murdering three babies during abortions at a clinic in a high-profile case that focused national attention on late-term abortions.

    You May Like

    Video Rubio Looks to Surge in New Hampshire

    Republican presidential candidate has moved into second place in several recent surveys and appears to be gaining ground on longtime frontrunner Donald Trump

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    UN Pilots New Peace Approach in CAR

    Approach launched in northern town of Kaga Bandoro, where former combatants of mainly Muslim Seleka armed group and Christian and animist anti-Balaka movement are being paid to do community work

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.