AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade has pushed abortion access and rights to the forefront of news cycles, but nine years ago around this same time, the topic was also being heavily debated in the Texas Legislature.
On June 25, 2013, then-Sen. Wendy Davis, cheered on by supporters, led the first filibuster to try and kill House Bill 2 in a special session.
Davis sat down with KXAN Wednesday to reflect on that first filibuster nine years ago. She said even though HB2 passed, the experience taught her a few things.
“The lesson for me to be learned in that is that when we show up, and we believe and fight in our collective and individual power, we can rely on our ability to make change,” she said. “And I know people are feeling so upset, frustrated, sad, angry — as am I — but we can’t let that lead us to a state of giving up. It’s more important now than ever that we fight.”
HB2 banned abortion after 20 weeks post-fertilization, unless there was a risk of death for the pregnant person or the fetus had a severe medical problem, according to ACLU Texas.
The law also put rules on doctors and facilities that provide abortion services, saying clinics must meet the standards of ambulatory surgical centers, even if the center only provided abortion pills to patients.
Davis stood and spoke for more than 11 hours, but Republicans cut the Democrat’s effort short just prior to midnight — the deadline they needed to vote on the bill.
KXAN’s Josh Hinkle, who was inside the chamber as the filibuster ended, reported at the time more than 50 state troopers were inside to handle the crowds, and a number of Davis’ supporters were forcibly taken out.
“They did everything they could including getting the crowd to chant,” said now-Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who was a senator at the time. “I mean, you had House members, Democrat House members revving up the crowd, trying to drown us out so we couldn’t do our business. That’s not the way democracy works.”
But the rowdy crowd proved integral in preventing the Senate from taking down a vote in time.
Lawmakers did manage to pass the bill a few weeks later in mid-July in another special session, but not before Davis led a second filibuster.
Now-Gov. Greg Abbott, who was Texas attorney general at the time, echoed history to come in an interview with KXAN after the 2013 bill’s passage.
“I do think that the United States Supreme Court, which is probably where this case will wind up, can reconcile Roe v. Wade and this law,” Abbott said back then.
Eventually in 2016, the Supreme Court struck down the requirements for doctors and abortion facilities, but other parts of the law stayed active, ACLU Texas said.
Abbott went on to campaign for governor, as did Davis in 2014.
Davis said while the Supreme Court’s recent decision to overturn Roe leaves many in a “murky” place, local officials can band together to offer support to women and those who can get pregnant.
“Harris County, where Houston is, passed a resolution proclaiming its support for reproductive healthcare. Austin is doing the same. Denton County even is about to step up and do this. And I think it’s really important city by city, county by county, that we are stepping forward and telling the people that live here, we are going to do everything we can to give you the proactive health care that you need. And until we can get this decision overturned, we’re going to try to get you the care you need out of state,” she said Wednesday.