KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Texas Democrats Defeat Abortion Bill After Midnight Drama

Democrats in the Texas Senate late Tuesday successfully filibustered abortion legislation that would ban the procedure after 20 weeks of pregnancy and also shutter all but a few abortion clinics in the state.

The Texas Tribune: Led By Davis, Democrats Defeat Abortion Legislation
The nation watched on Tuesday -- and into Wednesday -- as Democratic Sen. Wendy Davis and hundreds of impassioned reproductive rights advocates stalled proceedings and ultimately defeated controversial abortion legislation in a storm of screams and shouts as the clock struck midnight (Aaronson, 6/26).

The Associated Press: Texas Abortion Bill Falls After Challenge
Despite barely beating a midnight deadline, hundreds of jeering protesters helped stop Texas lawmakers from passing one of the toughest abortion measures in the country. As the protesters raised the noise to deafening levels in the Texas Senate chamber late Tuesday, Republicans scrambled to gather their colleagues at the podium for a stroke-of-midnight vote on some of the toughest abortion restrictions in the country (Vertuno and Tomlinson, 6/26).

The New York Times: Texas Abortion Bill Fails After Tense Standoff
Hours after claiming that they successfully passed some of the toughest abortion restrictions in the country, Republican lawmakers reversed course and said a disputed late-night vote on the bill did not follow legislative procedures, rendering the vote moot and giving Democrats a bitterly fought if short-lived victory (Fernandez and Eckholm, 6/26).

Los Angeles Times: Texas Abortion Bill Fight Ends In Chaos After Marathon Filibuster
When Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis arrived at the Capitol in Austin on Tuesday morning wearing pink sneakers, everyone knew that a daylong, marathon filibuster was about to begin. So was a controversy. Davis, 50, a Democrat from Fort Worth, had been specially chosen by her caucus to mount a last-ditch attempt to block sweeping legislation to ban abortions at 20 weeks and force the state's abortion clinics to upgrade or close. Whether she succeeded was unclear (Hennessy-Fiske, 6/26).

NPR: Texas Lawmaker's 11-Hour Filibuster Ended On A Technicality
By midnight Texas time, it was all over but the parliamentary inquiries. After a nearly 11-hour filibuster attempt by state Sen. Wendy Davis to block sweeping restrictions on abortion, the Republican-dominated Texas Senate successfully shut down the filibuster on points of order. (See update at the bottom of this post.) "This is probably the worst night that I've experienced since I've been in the Senate, maybe since I've been in public life," said state Sen. Kirk Watson, a Democrat from Austin (Hu, 6/26).

USA Today: Texas Abortion Bill Misses Deadline
The bill, known as SB 5, would ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy and force many clinics that perform the procedure to upgrade their facilities and be classified as ambulatory surgical centers. Also, doctors would be required to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles. If signed into law, the measures would close almost every abortion clinic in Texas, a state 773 miles wide and 790 miles long with 26 million people. A woman living along the Mexico border or in West Texas would have to drive hundreds of miles to obtain an abortion. The law's provision that abortions be performed at surgical centers means only five of Texas' 42 abortion clinics are currently designated to remain in operation (Hjelmgaard, 6/26).

Reuters: Marathon Speech Helps Democrats Block Texas Abortion Bill
Texas state Democrats blocked a drive for new abortion restrictions on Wednesday after a marathon speech in the capitol in Austin caused some Republican backers of the bill to cast votes after a midnight deadline. Democrat Senator Wendy Davis spoke for more than 10 hours in a bid to pull down the voting window on a measure that would place a ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy (MacLaggan, 6/26).

Fox News: Texas Abortion Bill Falls After Dispute Over Vote
Texas' lieutenant governor acknowledged early Wednesday that Republicans missed their deadline to pass new abortion restrictions after protesters screamed down lawmakers as the final 15 minutes passed before the special legislative session's deadline. Initially, Republicans insisted they had started voting before the midnight deadline and passed the bill that Democrats spent much of Tuesday filibustering. But after official computer records and printouts of the voting record showed the vote took place on Wednesday, and then were changed to read Tuesday, senators convened for a private meeting (6/26).

CNN: Texas Abortion Bill Dies As Confusion Marks End Of Session
The Texas legislature's special session ended in chaos and confusion early Wednesday, when a marathon filibuster failed -- but so did a Republican effort to pass a bill that would have greatly restricted abortions in the state. The Republican-dominated Senate needed to vote "yea" on the bill by midnight to send it to the governor to sign into law. But at 3 a.m., Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst stepped to the Senate floor to declare the bill dead and the special session over (Payne, 6/26).

In other state-based abortion legislation news --

The New York Times: Lawsuit Challenges North Dakota's Abortion Limits
A women's rights group filed a lawsuit in federal court on Tuesday to block the country’s most stringent abortion law, a North Dakota ban on abortions as early as six weeks into pregnancy (Eckholm 6/25).

The Associated Press: Panel Adds Abortion Regulations To Ohio Budget
Abortion providers in Ohio would have to inform pregnant women in writing about the presence of a fetal heartbeat before the procedure under a last-minute change slipped into the state budget. The amendment which also requires providers to say, to the best of their knowledge, the statistical probability of bringing the fetus to term was added Tuesday night by a Republican-dominated, six-member legislative committee (Sanner, 6/25).

Des Moines Register: Iowa Group Tries To End 'Telemedicine' Abortions
An Iowa organization opposed to abortions said Tuesday it is asking state medical officials to block a remote-control method of distributing abortion-inducing pills. Iowa Right to Life, based in Des Moines, said in a statement that it has filed petitions that have more than 20,000 signatures with the Iowa Board of Medicine. ... The petitions target a long-distance video system used by Planned Parenthood of the Heartland. The system allows a physician in Des Moines to deliver pills to patients in remote clinics around the state (Petroski, 6/25).

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