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Texas State Senator: Sonogram law ‘was absolutely germane’ to abortion debate

Continued debate about Tuesday's filibuster--even as Governor Perry schedules another special session to push through the abortion bill.
/ Source: Martin Bashir

Continued debate about Tuesday's filibuster--even as Governor Perry schedules another special session to push through the abortion bill.

Texas Senator Wendy Davis’ filibuster was cut short after Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst ruled three times that Davis had violated the Senate’s filibuster rules.

The violations: having a fellow senator help her adjust her back brace, and discussing two topics that were not germane. But one of the topics Davis was discussing was the 2011 Texas sonogram law that requires women to undergo a sonogram and hear a verbal description of the results—even if she does not want to hear it—24 hours before her abortion. A sonogram is a prerequisite that is used to determine if a fetus is more than 20 weeks old.

Sen. Kirk Watson, who moved to overturn Dewhurst’s ruling and appeal the decision, said in an interview with MSNBC Thursday, “It was absolutely germane. It created a context to which we created add regulations to [Senate Bill 5]. It revealed actions in the law that they refused to put in SB 5 that would have made it less burdensome for women.”

SB 5, the proposed abortion bill, would cut Texas’ 47 abortion clinics down to five, ban abortions past 20 weeks of gestation, require clinics to upgrade their facility classifications, and require physicians to have hospital admitting privileges. The Senate intended to vote on the bill Tuesday after it passed the House earlier in the week.

Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, who joined the Senate chamber hours after her father’s funeral, had also attempted to argue that Davis’ mention of the mandatory ultrasound testing was related to the bill.

“It was incredible to see the legislative process to be made into a mockery,” Sen. Van de Putte, a Democrat representing San Antonio, told’s Joy-Ann Reid on MSNBC Thursday. “They didn’t want to listen to women’s voices.”

A representative from Van de Putte’s office also told that Van de Putte’s shining moment—calling out her male peers in the chamber—almost never happened.

“It was trying day for her,” Van de Putte’s representative said. “She was pretty worn out when she got to the offices. At one point she wasn’t sure if she was going to back, but the wife of a colleague convinced her to get back in.”

Senate Democrats waited until nearly 3 a.m. local time for Dewhurst to officially announce that SB 5 had failed because the vote was not cast before the midnight deadline.

But on Wednesday, Gov. Rick Perry said he would schedule a second special session of the Texas legislature to address the abortion bill.

“It’s tone deaf,” Watson said. “It’s a continuing sign of [the Texas GOP’s] unwillingness to let the people of the state… make their own decisions.”

Watson added he was disgusted by Perry’s words from Thursday morning’s National Right to Life Conference where he criticized Davis’ filibuster because she herself had been a teenage mother who was born to a single woman.

“He refuses to recognize that women deserve to be respected on what they decide to do and think,” Watson said.