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Texas Republicans meet the 'Citizens Filibuster' and -- update -- schedule new abortion vote anyway

The Citizens Filibuster.
The Citizens Filibuster.Photo: Nick Swartsell/Texas Observer

The Texas House State Affairs Committee debated sweeping new restrictions on abortion last night, including Mississippi-style requirements that would shut down most of the clinics in Texas. According to press reports from the debate, 700 opponents of the bill showed up and asked to testify.

They called it the Citizens Filibuster, people lining up one after another. Just before 4 A.M., the House committee adjourned without taking a vote. Angela Mata writes that the event seemed to come together in a flash:

The movement to organize a community filibuster to force the bill to “die” in committee occurred mostly through e-mails and phone calls from political organizations to their networks, and through word of mouth between those that are politically involved.

The first time I heard about this in any capacity was Wednesday, June 19th.  The speed at which women responded to an urgent call to action was one of the strengths of the organizing.

Women traveled from all over Texas, some from many hours away, to testify against HB 60 before the committee.  People started arriving to register to testify at one in the afternoon, and the committee started hearing testimony at a little after five.  When I arrived at 7pm, there were just over 200 people registered to testify, but as the evening went on that number climbed to over 700.  People, mostly women, although there was a strong male presence too, were prepared to wait their turn all night to speak against the bills. 

In addition to the hearing room itself, there were multiple overflow rooms crowded with people waiting their turns. ...

I do not think that anyone is completely sure what will happen from here since it’s a special legislative session, but we should know soon.

Just now AP reports that the House committee chair has called a new meeting today, with two hours' notice, "in a room that can hold only 30 people and does not have a video feed." AP says the committee is likely to pass the new restrictions then. The bills have already passed the Senate.

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