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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Video of Texas State Senator’s Efforts to Block Abortion Bill

The crowd erupted online and inside the Texas state house to cheer State Senator Wendy Davis, a Democrat from Fort Worth, who led a filibuster to help block legislation restricting abortion rights.

On Tuesday, the hashtag “#standwithwendy” started popping up on Twitter. By midnight, it was trending across the country, shared on more than 400,000 posts as State Senator Wendy Davis helped block a bill in the Texas Legislature that would have become one of the nation’s most restrictive laws on abortion.

For more than 10 hours, Ms. Davis, 50, led a filibuster against the legislation, slowly gathering attention onlne throughout the day as tens of thousands of people on Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook began discussing the bill and her efforts to prevent a vote on it before midnight.

When Republican lawmakers tried to proceed with a vote just before the clock struck midnight, as my colleagues, Manny Fernandez and Erik Eckholm report, cheers and chants of “Wendy” erupted both online and from the gallery, packed with supporters of women’s rights and abortion rights.

Watching live video of the events unfold were more than 170,000 people, viewing the proceedings on YouTube and The Texas Tribune’s Web site. On Twitter, officials said that posts with the hashtag “standwithwendy” were shared 4,900 times per minute.

The crowd cheered “Wendy” for more than 10 minutes at midnight.

Evan Smith, editor in chief and chief executive officer of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan digital news organization based in Austin, offered on Twitter an historical perspective:

Throughout the day, people online talked about Ms. Davis standin firm at the podium for women’s rights, unable to take a bathroom break or even lean on the lectern in keeping with the filibuster rules.

The Tribune also uploaded a video showing aides to Ms. Davis helping her put on a back brace so that she could continue standing during her filibuster. She was not allowed to eat, lean or take a bathroom break.

Wendy Davis trying to put on a back brace during her filibuster with the assistance of her aides.

On her Twitter account, @WendyDavisTexas, Ms. Davis began the day with about 8,000 followers. By Wednesday morning, she had more than 74,000 followers. She used it to thank her supporters early Wednesday after officials ruled that a v! ote by Re! publicans passing the bill failed because of procedural rules.

But as my colleagues noted, the Democratic victory is likely to be short-lived. Gov. Rick Perry and Republican lawmakers have made the bill a priority, and Mr. Perry may call a special legislative session so that the measure could be considered again. Advocates say the bill would improve women’s health care by making abortion safer. Opponents say the legislation restricting abortion after 20 years and imposing new regulations on abortion linics would give Texas among the most restrictive abortion laws in the country.

As Ms. Davis left the Capitol early Wednesday, David Edmonson posted this photo on Twitter.