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What's Next for SB 5, the Abortion Bill in the Texas Legislature

Veronica Zaragovia for KUT News

You're probably aware of Sunday night's marathon hearing on an omnibus abortion bill in the Texas Legislature.

The bill would restrict abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, require all clinics to be certified as ambulatory surgical centers and require abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at a local hospital. After a vote this morning, that bill is out of the House and in the Senate, where a few things could happen to either pass or block the bill before the special session ends midnight Tuesday. So let's go over a couple of the scenarios:

Passage: The Republican-lead Senate OKs the measure, sending it onto Gov. Rick Perry for final approval.

Filibuster: This one has been predicted for a while. The speculation is that Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, would stand and speak during the last few hours of the special session to block a final vote on the bill. But how long would she half to stand? That depends on:

  • A vote to bring the bill up early: This could happen at any moment. Several senators are behind closed doors talking over when to call for a vote that would speed up how quickly they get to Senate Bill 5. There is a 24-hour waiting period once a bill has come from the House to the Senate. That would have debate starting no earlier than late morning on Tuesday, the final day of the session. If the House votes to suspend the rule, and the filibuster time could jump form eight hours to 32.

And then there's one more thing to consider when trying to figure out when SB 5 might come up:

  • Sen. Van de Putte's (D-San Antonio) father's funeral: This is a tragic addition to the abortion battle. The Senator's father died over the weekend from injuries sustained in car crash. The service is Tuesday at 12:30. If SB 5 isn't brought up early, it could be late Tuesday afternoon before lawmakers are back from the funeral and can take up SB 5. Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr., D- Brownsville, says he won't bring SB 5 to the Senate floor until Sen. Van de Putte returns to the senate as well.   
  • Another wild card: And finally, something else could come up. From another parliamentary move, to protests, to Senate Democrats breaking quorum and not showing up for a final vote.

But if that final possibility were to happen, there are already rumors swirling that Gov. Rick Perry would immediately call another special session to deal with unfinished business.

Ben Philpott is the Managing Editor for KUT. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on Twitter @BenPhilpottKUT.
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