Senators Van De Putte, Campbell played big roles in final hours of abortion debate

Local Senators Speak Out About Roles In Final Hours Of Debate

SAN ANTONIO - The wild end Tuesday night to a special legislative session which saw the death of a contentious abortion bill is still making headlines.

The debate was heavily influenced in the final hours by two local senators on opposite sides of the aisle, Democratic Sen. Leticia Van De Putte and Republican Sen. Donna Campbell.

When it was all over, it wasn't a filibuster that killed SB 5, but a filibuster mounted by the people in the gallery. 

While the gallery had made itself known a few times during the heated debate, it was a question posed by a frustrated Sen. Van De Putte that sparked an uproar that didn't subside until well after midnight.

This is the question Van De Putte posed, "At what point must a female senator raise her hand or her voice to be recognized over the male colleagues in the room?"

The gallery, filled with a majority of women and pro-choice supporters erupted into a chorus of cheers and shouts that drowned out the senators on the floor.

"People ask me was that planned," Van De Putte said. "No we couldn't have planned it."

Van De Putte hadn't even planned to be in Austin, she had just buried her father who died last week in a car accident.  When she learned fellow Democrat Wendy Davis' filibuster was in trouble she decided to drive to the capitol.

By the time she got there Republican Donna Campbell had called the third point of order that should have ended the filibuster.

Exhausted, Van De Putte said she found her voice and started raising questions.

"I'm thankful I did find my voice. I'm thankful I did speak up," Van De Putte said. "I had no idea that my words would set about the eruption that ultimately was the people's filibuster which killed SB5."

The noise from the gallery made it impossible for a vote to be taken and the session ended in chaos.

"In this case mob rule seemed to win out," Donna Campbell said. "You cannot carry out business in an unruly environment."

Senator Campbell and her fellow Republicans were stunned and disappointed by the behavior of the gallery and their impact on the senate's ability to conduct business.

She said she's been inundated with threatening messages since Wednesday morning.

'I have had threats that are disgusting. It's behavior that is unbecoming any civility in America. That's not what we're about," Campbell said.  

"Just because someone doesn't like how the vote may turn out, does not make an excuse for bad behavior."

Despite the threats, she's ready to try to pass another version of the bill in the next special session.

"The issue is very important for the safety of women's health who choose an abortion," Campbell said. "Hopefully with us starting earlier we can come to a vote earlier."


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