Texas Gov. Rick Perry calls second special session to address anti-abortion legislation
A filibuster by state Sen. Wendy Davis thwarted first attempt to pass bill last week
Critics say the bill will shut most of the state's abortion clinics
Perry says "unprecedented anarchy" disrupted previous consideration of legislation
Texas lawmakers returned for a second special session on Monday to reconsider anti-abortion legislation derailed initially by a one-woman filibuster and a raucous crowd at the state Capitol that drowned out a final effort to push it through.
In calling the Legislature back into session, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, a Republican, described last week’s events in the state Capitol as “unprecedented anarchy” and said “mob rule” would not be tolerated this time around.
State Sen. Wendy Davis, a Democrat who led last week’s dramatic political charge and became a newly minted heroine of abortion rights in the process, energized a rally in Austin before the Legislature reconvened.
“Together we can do what they won’t. We can stand. We can stand up together. We can stand up for what’s right. We can stand up for Texas,” Davis said to cheers. “Texans need someone who will stand up for their values.”
Davis talked for more than 10 hours last Tuesday in helping to run out out the clock on the legislation that would be one of the most restrictive anti-abortion laws in the country, if approved.
The last ditch attempt by Senate Republicans to pass it before a midnight deadline was thwarted by spectators in the Captiol chanting “shame! shame! shame!”
Perry said on Monday that dramatic tactics would not work this time.
“We will not allow the breakdown of decorum and decency to prevent us from doing what the people of this state hired us to do,” Perry said in a statement.
In a series of radio interviews, Perry also said the lieutenant governor and the speaker are not going to allow “turmoil” and “mob rule” in their chambers.
Republicans confident of passage
Republicans are confident the legislation will pass this time, considering they have a month to consider it.
But Davis told CNN that she and Democratic allies had “a few tricks up their sleeves.” She declined to offer details, but noted that it would be challenged immediately in court if it passes.
The bill would ban most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy and would tighten regulations on abortion clinics and the doctors who work at them. Critics said the measure would have shut most of the abortion clinics in Texas.
In a series of radio interviews on Monday, Perry said the lieutenant governor and the speaker are not going to allow “turmoil” and “mob rule” in their chambers.
The shouting, which Perry described as “unprecedented anarchy” marked an unprecedented moment in the Capitol, but the governor insisted it won’t derail the bill.
“Regardless of whether there is a vocal opposition …Texans and their views will prevail,” he said.
The virtual debate over the legislation has been less than civic at times, with supporters coalescing around the Twitter hashtag #stand4life and opponents using #standwithwendy, in honor of Davis, as their rallying point.
“WE ALL know all abortions are NOT for mother’s health, but simply bc they don’t want a baby then. Farce to protect baby murder. #Stand4Life,” said a post from Rhonda Nelson.
A tweet from Boise Blue Convert said, “Fight the American Taliban, #standwithwendy.”
Perry and Davis have continued to spar.
Perry claimed Davis ignored her own past as the daughter of a single mother in her bid to prevent abortion rights from being restricted in the Lone Star state.
“I’m all about honest, open debate,” Perry said at a national “Right to Life” convention in Dallas last week. “Parliamentary tactics are certainly nothing new. But what we witnessed Tuesday was nothing more than the hijacking of the Democratic process. And this is simply too important a cause to allow the unruly actions of a few to stand in its way.”
Perry argued Thursday that biography should instead have provided Davis guidance in her personal views on abortion.
“The fact is, who are we to say that children born into the worst of circumstances can’t grow to live successful lives?” Perry said. “In fact, even the woman who filibustered in the Senate the other day was born into difficult circumstances. She was the daughter of a single woman. She was a teenage mother herself. She managed eventually to graduate from Harvard Law School and serve in the Texas Senate. It’s just unfortunate that she hasn’t learned from her own example, that every life must be given a chance to realize its full potential and that every life matters.”
On Monday, Davis pointed to her daughter, now 30, and said she doesn’t “regret for one moment” the decisions she’s made in life.
“We’re fighting for a Texas where every woman is able to overcome her unique challenges because she had the same choices and same chances I had,” Davis said, adding Republicans in the state were “bullying women who need help with their healthcare.”
The state senator told NBC News she hasn’t “ruled out” the idea of running for governor next year but is focused on preventing the abortion bill from passing in the special session.
In her slew of recent media interviews, Davis has argued that Perry is simply trying to boost his political aspirations by being a big voice in the abortion battle.
Asked about Davis on Monday, Perry, who hasn’t announced whether he’ll run in 2014, told KFYO the issue is about a debate over life and women’s health, not “someone’s political future.”
CNN’s Ashley Killough and Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.