700 Texans Gather for ‘People’s Filibuster,’ GOP Lawmaker Tries to Silence ‘Repetitive’ Testimony

See all our coverage of the “people’s filibuster” against HB 60 here.

It’s getting close to 2:00 a.m. in Austin, Texas, and I’m sitting in a room with close to a hundred citizens who have been shut out of testifying against an omnibus abortion bill that would shut down all but five abortion clinics in the state, ban abortion after 20 weeks, and make medical abortion all but impossible to obtain and prescribe.

Safe, legal, accessible abortion in Texas is under direct threat. That’s why many of the people in this room have been here for over 12 hours. The ache in my back reminds me that I’ve been here right along with them.

We’re here as part of a citizens’ filibuster against a bill added to the Texas house’s special session calendar at the last minute by Republican Gov. Rick Perry. They spent the day anxiously waiting for their names to be called by House State Affairs Committee chairman Rep. Byron Cook (R-Corsicana). They’ve been poring over testimony, timing themselves on smartphones, practicing their statements in the hallway with quavering voices.

Seven hundred people registered to testify today. Tonight. Into the wee hours. They were prepared to wait as long as it took.

At midnight, Rep. Cook told us that, after nearly seven hours of testimony against HB 60, our words were getting to be “repetitive,” and he would allow just one more hour of testimony.

That’s when the yelling started.

“Let her speak!” chanted women and men who gathered in the room as one woman was escorted away from the podium by a Texas State Trooper.

Shortly thereafter, citizens took over the hearing room and decided to testify with or without the committee members present.

That’s when #HB60 began trending worldwide on Twitter. That’s when people stopped tweeting about getting coffee delivered to the James H. Reagan building here in downtown Austin, and started tweeting about bail money.

Eventually, Rep. Cook and his colleagues called the hearing back to order and gave the gathered citizens another half-hour to speak against HB 60.

“Our words are not repetitive,” testified Lesli Simms, a first-generation American. “Our government’s attacks on our choice, on our bodies, is repetitive.”

There are hundreds of people still waiting to have their voices heard. But it may be their silence, engineered and ensured by Rep. Cook and right-wing lawmakers, that will speak loudest of all.

Like this story? Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

For more information or to schedule an interview with contact press@rhrealitycheck.org.

Follow Andrea Grimes on twitter: @andreagrimes

  • JulesAboutTown

    Thank you so much for this.

  • nousernamesavailable

    TEXANS you rock today………… thank you

  • irrefudiate

    I am impressed by the turnout and the dedication of those who made the effort. I thank you for keeping the Democratic Party alive in Texas. We absolutely must prevail, there is no viable alternative.

    • Lola Grace

      We will PREVAIL! It’s not just civilians who want Perry out of office and soon. It’s his fellow politicians. It can’t come soon enough. I just wish that one time, ONE TIME in 40 years of abortion being LEGAL, we could let our guard down. But we never can. We will always have to fight.

  • Cade DeBois

    I’m still chaffing from the jerk on FB who replied to one of RHRC’s posts on this with “Fuck Texas”. Because apparently Texas women aren’t worth fighting for according to some “allies”. I was living here in Texas when I had an abortion in 1993. It was very accessibe for me, and I am so grateful it was–from around 10th or 11th day of my pregnancy I was in so much horrible pain, which my GP dismissed as “normal for a first pregnancy” but the doctor who actually performed my abortion correctly dx’d as a life-threatening interstitial pregnancy that needed to be aborted or I risked a ruptured uterus. I also had an abusive ex-boyfriend who had been the guy who impregnated me after the condom “broke” and who was threatening my life, and I needed for my own safety and health to cut all ties with him. So I really, really needed an accessible abortion, without having to jump through insane political hoops, being stuck on a waiting list or having to drive half way across the state.

    I am very grateful to these women–I wish I could have joined them but I’m too broke to travel to Austin. Keep up the fight! We need accessible abortion here in Texas, and Texas women are worth fighting for!

    • Rachael Leigh Anderson

      Yeah. It’s unfortunate how other states sometimes write us off as a state filled only with Republican Christians(Not that there’s anything wrong with being that….but it’s a marginalization to say we all are). I have very amazing Democrat friends as far as Lubbock, TX and, living here in Austin, this is definitely one of the more liberal cities that I have been to. To say “Fuck Texas” is like cutting off one’s nose in spite of one’s face.

    • Pepper Anderson

      Texas babies and the innocent unborn are worth fighting for too.

      • Anna

        You have no business or right to get yourself involve in the lives of other women and families. The ONLY person you are responsible for is YOU. Everyone’s life is unique; we have different views, religions, thoughts, and actions.

        This is all about taking away the rights of women. If man could get pregnant these immoral GOP men would have never stood against abortion. How about we make a law where man would be responsible for getting woman pregnant, so each time there was a unwanted pregnancy the responsible party (the guy) had to pay a fine. …… Problem solved!!

  • h2o_girl

    A huge thank you to Andrea and all the other brave souls who attended this and spoke out.

  • JentlemanGim

    I’m still trying to figure out what “Caylee’s Law” SB-5 deals with these abortion issues not HB-60.

  • anilpetra

    This is absolutely hilarious.

    The “Blue Texas” project is collapsing into empty posturing and ridiculous antics.

    What an embarrassing failure for Democrats.

  • colleen2

    Thank you, Austin! and don’t ever allow a ‘centrist’ Democrat convince you to stop fighting……..

    • davidmartin7777

      The right hates moderates every bit as much as they hate liberals.

      • colleen2

        and ‘centrists’ hate liberals just as much as the right.

        • 3-I

          And I don’t like anybody very much!

        • Rachael Leigh Anderson

          Um…I’m Centrist and I don’t hate liberals. :( I try to see both sides fairly and I don’t hate anyone. We’re all just people. That Nacht Hahn says “When you understand your enemy, they cease to be your enemy”– Words that I and many other Centrists try to live by.

          • colleen2

            I understand ‘centrists’ quite well. I was not speaking of you or your politics but, rather, the people and politics of those in power and those who advise those in power and my description is accurate and well documented

  • http://www.minecraftgames.co/ Minecraft Games

    This is indeed a great site! Very informative and
    interesting to read.

  • Bryan Harrison

    i am not from texas i am in oklahoma and i am shocked and mortified that perry thinks he can do this and get away with it im a guy so im not gonna say what a woman can and cant do with her body its hers just like my body is mine but it makes me angry that these old white males think that they speak for every guy in america well women of america im here to say that they dont im strongly pro choice if a woman wants to decide what to do with her body its her business and her partners not republicans its amazing how republicans want the govt to get out of everybodys business but they want everybody in a person’s bedroom that is a sensitive decision that is nobody’s business but a couple’s

  • ginnydupuy

    Very, Very proud of the strong citizens who had the courage to stay PAST “their” intended end..

  • Lola Grace

    I wish I could’ve been there! I live in Houston but couldn’t get off work to join everyone. I am so fortunate that I was able to obtain a safe and legal abortion here in my hometown back in 1998. The doctor was wonderful. It was a very physically painful procedure, for me anyway. I don’t have a very high pain threshold.

    The thought that Rick “The Hair” Perry would try and essentially close down nearly every clinic in the state makes me sick. Anti-choicers and right wing conservatives try and tell women that we are being paranoid when it comes to a “war on women” cause there is none. REALLY? Then why are they trying to get abortion outlawed, slowly but surely all across America?

    They know they can’t win at the federal level since we have a pro-choice, pro-woman prez in power so they are going state to state, chipping away at our reproductive rights. All I can say is WAY TO GO PRO-CHOICE TEXAS. We will not go down without a fight. And hasn’t Perry been governor 13 years too long already?

  • Rebecca

    Progressives in Texas: We are here, we are here, we are here.

  • Barbara Finger

    I hope she can keep it up. I didn’t even know it was happening. It’s hard being a PRO-CHOICE CONSERVATIVE and know everything that goes on, but I try.

    Keep up the fight.