A filibuster of a Texas abortion bill was trending worldwide on Twitter
Democratic Senator Wendy Davis stood and spoke for 10 hours against the bill
More than 180,00 people tuned into a live stream of the proceedings on YouTube
As the day went on, the story of Senator Davis’ filibuster caught fire on Twitter, and by the evening it was trending worldwide. There were at least 730,000 total tweets about the filibuster on Tuesday. The excitement peaked at 11:58 p.m. central time, just two minutes before the midnight deadline, with 5,776 tweets per minute about the story, according to Twitter.
Ultimately, after much confusion, it worked. Senate leaders tried to push a vote through, but didn’t do so until a couple of minutes after midnight and, around 3 a.m., the state’s legislature declared a special session over.
It even caught the attention of the official President Obama Twitter account, which tweeted out “Something special is happening in Austin tonight” with a link to The Texas Tribune during the filibuster’s ninth hour.
Senate Bill 5 (SB 5) would ban abortions after the 20th week of a pregnancy. According to opponents, new abortion clinic standards in the bill would effectively shutter 37 of the state’s 42 abortion clinics. The bill would give Texas some of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country.
Strict senate rules for filibusters added to the drama. According to the rules, Senator Davis was not allowed to sit down, take a restroom break, go off topic or even lean.