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Texas state senator wages 13 hour filibuster to halt abortion law

Texas State Sen. Wendy Davis (D) has become an overnight political sensation with a 13-hour filibuster on abortion rights.

Davis gained more than 60,000 Twitter followers — and support over Twitter from President Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and others as she sought to delay a final vote on legislation that would have banned abortion in the state after 20 weeks.

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Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) had called a special 30-day session so Republicans in his state’s part-time legislature could resume efforts to pass the law, but Democrats, led by Davis’s filibuster, successfully blocked the bill from passing and the session expired at midnight.

The tense battle over abortion rights spilled into the early hours of Wednesday morning after Republicans said Davis broke the states rules on filibusters. 

Texas has a "three strikes and you're out" policy in which a lawmaker loses the right to filibuster if they break the rules three times. 

Texas's lieutenant governor ruled Davis twice veered into matters that weren't germane to the debate, and also ruled that a back brace she put on in the middle of the debate with the help of another lawmaker was a form of outside aid.

When Republicans then moved to hold a final vote, the Senate floor descended into chaos as Democrats complained and observers shouted and chanted. 

A final vote on the bill took place after midnight, when the state's legislative session had already ended. That rendered the vote moot.

Davis’s filibuster grabbed national attention, as hundreds flooded the Texas statehouse to show their support or to protest, and more than 100,000 watched a Texas Tribune live-stream of the event. 

Abortion rights activists said the bill would make Texas’s laws the strictest in the nation and would force the closure of all but a handful of clinics in the state.

“The bill would have banned abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, required physicians to have hospital admitting privileges within 30 miles of an abortion facility, required abortions — even drug-induced ones — to be performed in ambulatory surgical centers and required doctors to administer drugs that induce abortion in person,” The Texas Tribune reported.

Perry could still decide to revive the issue by recalling the legislature for another 30-day session.