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After Warnings, Texas Senator Keeps Filibuster Going Against Abortion Bill

The filibuster of the 2013 special session filibuster took an emotional detour, temporarily.

Earlier today, Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, helped State Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, with a back brace. Sen. Davis has been standing because she launched a filibuster this morning to kill an abortion-related measure, Senate Bill 5.

The help she received led State Sen. Tommy Williams, R-The Woodlands, to call a point of order. According to rules of the Texas Senate, members cannot lean or sit on anything during a filibuster, nor can they receive help from another person to remain standing.

As they debated whether he handed the brace over a rail or helped Sen. Davis put it on, Sen. Williams brought up a photo on Twitter that, he said, shows Sen. Ellis helping her put it on.

But State Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, asked members to take a pause and reconsider.

"You need to slow down right this moment and recognize what this issue is doing to this body," Sen. Whitmire said. "We must stop in our tracks and take a deep breath and look at each other in the eye and remember the relationships. We've gone to each other's childrens services...and children's graduations."

"I can go back to when I got here in 1983. Each [filibuster] was unique," he continued. "Each one was special. Even if you opposed the person's position, you were still kind to them. You know what it does to their families while they're gone for 140 days."

State Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, urged fellow senators to brush up on their rules.

"Let's be literal about this. Let's be fair," she said. "Let's honor the tradition of the Texas Senate. Open your book. Read it. Everything she's done is consistent with the rule of the Senate."

However, members voted to sustain the point of order. That means Davis now has two warnings. 

The second warning pertained to whether the content she was addressing during a portion of the filibuster was germaine. A third one would lead the full Senate to vote on whether the filibuster would need to desist.