Texas Republicans are now one step closer to passing the sweeping abortion restrictions that Wendy Davis and her allies managed to derail in dramatic fashion last month. The excellent Texas Tribune with the details:
After more than 10 hours of debate, the House voted 98-49 to tentatively approve the abortion regulations in House Bill 2, which would ban abortions at 20 weeks and add regulations to abortion providers and facilities that opponents argue would effectively eliminate access to abortion in Texas. The House must approve the bill again on another calendar day before it will be sent to the Senate.
The first House vote came last night, so the second one will most likely come today [Update: It did]. After that, the bill will head to the state legislature’s upper chamber, where Wendy Davis and co. will be waiting to make as much noise as they can. But unlike late last month when Davis’ marathon filibuster was able to run out the clock on the final day of the 30-day special session, Republicans appear certain of victory this time around. Gov. Rick Perry convened the current special session on July 1, so his party has nearly three weeks left to deliver the anti-abortion legislation to his desk to be signed into law. That of course won’t be the end of the story though: the soon-to-be law is destined for a court challenge, and anyone who’s paying attention can tell we haven’t seen the last of Davis and her pink shoes.
The more immediate question, however, is just how much noise Davis will be able to make this time around—and how many people will hear it. Last month’s filibuster drew more media attention than she ever could have reasonably hoped for, turning her into an overnight Internet sensation and establishing her as a potential gubernatorial candidate. But the spotlight likely won’t burn as bright the second time around; it’ll be tough for liberals to get so fired up when they know that another temporary victory will remain out of reach. (Davis would have to stay on her feet for about two weeks to derail the bill this time, or about 30-odd times longer than she did last month.) Still, Davis and her fans knew all along that her last victory would not be a lasting one in a legislative sense, but they have to look no farther than her campaign coffers (or a quick Google search) for proof that that it came with more tangible spoils. How Davis and her fellow Democrats go about losing this fight may go a long way toward determining how they fare in future ones.
This post has been updated with additional information and analysis.