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How a photo on Twitter helped kill a controversial Texas abortion bill

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Last night was a rowdy one at the Texas State Senate in Austin, where legislators were in a heated battle over a controversial bill that needed to pass before midnight. By 4 a.m., they had called it quits and killed the bill — with a little help from a photo posted on Twitter.

The bill in question, Texas SB5, sought to restrict abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy and standardize practices surrounding the procedure — a measure that would have shut down 37 of 45 clinics currently in the state. Democrats fought hard to filibuster the bill, as Senator Wendy Davis conducted an 11-hour speech to prevent the conservative majority from making it law.

All the while, Twitter continued to buzz with the events of the evening, with hashtags #sb5 and #standwithwendy, and  more than 200,000 users watched the Texas Tribune‘s liveblog of the events.

But her efforts fell short as a final point of order allowed proponents of the bill to end her stalling and move to a vote on the bill 15 minutes before the midnight deadline. Then the audience of pro-choice protestors began screaming in support of the Democrats, creating such chaos that it was impossible to conduct the vote. State troopers moved in and ultimately silenced the group, after which the senate speedily passed the bill.

But the initial timestamp read 12:02 am, past the midnight deadline.

After the vote, an argument broke out over whether the bill passed before the deadline, as printouts emerged showing the bill’s timestamp on June 25. Outraged at the attempts to turn back the clock and enforce the bill, Senator Juan Chuy Hinojosa took to Twitter, and the still-watching public, with the evidence:

The infighting continued, but the (now public) picture didn’t lie — conservative senators finally conceded that the timestamp was altered and the bill didn’t pass in time. Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst ended the special session, admitting that SB5 had died in the senate.

Gov. Rick Perry could call another special sesson and a similar bill could be reintroduced. But for now, the Democrats are celebrating their little bit of social media saavy.

8 Responses to “How a photo on Twitter helped kill a controversial Texas abortion bill”

  1. Yay for the mob tactics of the Democrat supporters. This is what democracy looks like!

    Altering the timestamp was incredibly stupid, lacking in integrity. No one came out looking very bright or principled in this circus.

    • RFO Jefferson

      Only if the Democrats (aka authentic Americans, like the Founding Fathers, who of course were very liberal) do it. If the Retardlickons (Americans only by accident of birthplace) do it, it’s okay. It’s how they “think.”

  2. It is inaccurate to say that the bill’s 20-week restriction would have shut down the majority of abortion clinics in Texas. That would have been the result of another provision in the bill, which would have required all abortion clinics to upgrade to ambulatory surgical center standards. The bill so required all doctors who perform abortions to have privileges at a hospital within 30 miles — which would be impossible in some rural communities where the nearest hospital might be 50 or more miles away.

  3. Would have liked to comment on this article which I assume Gigaom likes. I tried this a couple weeks ago but thought I would give Gigaom, a tech site if you will, another shot at embracing one of the most popular social platforms on the face of the earth. No dice, I’m unable to use my google id to post a comment. Really? I will no longer try and engage on this site. Thanks but no thanks