Texas Senate Bill 5

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Texas Senate Bill 5 (or Texas SB 5) is a bill that was created on June 11, 2013, and was discussed during the First Special Session of the Eighty-third Texas Legislature and was signed into law by Governor Rick Perry on July 18, 2013.

On June 27, 2016, the United States Supreme Court held some parts of the law to be unconstitutional in Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt.[1]

Bill content[edit]

Texas Senate Bill 5 is a list of measures that would amend and add to abortion regulations in Texas. These measures include a ban on abortion at 20 weeks post-fertilization and recognize that the state has a compelling interest to protect fetuses from pain.[2] The bill would mandate that a doctor who performs abortions have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital, and to require that clinics meet the same standards as other surgical health-care facilities in the state.[3][4][5][6] Another provision would require oversight of women taking abortion-inducing drugs such as RU-486.[7] The bill would not apply to abortions necessary to save the mother's life or to prevent permanent bodily damage from a pregnancy.[8][9]


First Special Session[edit]

On June 25, 2013, Senator Wendy Davis began a filibuster in attempt to block the bill by maintaining the floor until midnight, when the Senate's special session ended, after which the state Senate would no longer be able to vote on the measure.[10] After ten hours, Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst ruled that Davis had gone off topic after Davis began talking about a sonogram bill, forcing a vote on whether the filibuster could continue.[11] Despite efforts to pass the bill, parliamentary enquiries from Leticia R. Van de Putte and other senators, as well as disruption from the gallery caused the session to go on through midnight, the official closure of the special session.[12] Following the deadline, Republicans indicated that a vote had taken place and passed 19–11, while Democrats declared that the vote had taken place after midnight, making the vote void.[12] Dewhurst later conceded that the bill was passed after the deadline and was considered dead.[13][14]

Timestamp issue[edit]

After the bill was thought to have been passed, a record was added to the official web page on the history of the bill. According to the page, the timestamp of the bill's passage was listed as the 26th.[15] Later, the page was taken down and altered to say that the bill was passed on the 25th.[16] According to Texas Penal Code, Section 37.10, it is a crime to make an alteration that is false in a government document or record.[16][17] According to the Legislative Reference Library of Texas the Texas Legislature Online system "... is not the official record of those actions, and [the Legislative Reference Library staff] enters actions on TLO as a public service independently of the officers of the house or senate."[18] The Public Integrity Unit has begun an investigation into the events after receiving complaints.[19]

Second Special Session[edit]

On the 26th, Governor Rick Perry added the bill as part of three bills in a second special session, with the name Senate Bill 2.[20][21] Perry stated that it was due to the "[...] breakdown of decorum and decency to prevent us from doing what the people of this state hired us to do."[22]

The second session began on July 1, with supporters and opponents of the bill showing up in large crowds at the Texas Legislative building while wearing blue or orange shirts in support of their respective sides.[23][24]

The Texas House passed the bill on July 10, 2013, by a 96–49 margin and sent the measure to the Texas Senate.[7]

The Texas Senate passed the bill on July 13, 2013 with a bipartisan vote with a 19–11 margin.[25][26][27] The bill was signed by Gov. Rick Perry on July 18, 2013.[28]

The bill was eventually passed by both the House and the Senate in the July 2013 second special session and was signed by Gov. Rick Perry,[25][26][27] prompting one commentator to state that "Wendy Davis won the battle, but Rick Perry won the war."[29]

Public response[edit]

Billy Joe and Tuesday's controversial placard

Organizations and people on both sides used websites like Twitter and the Texas Tribune to share their side and learn more, with several hashtags becoming popular on Twitter.[30][31][32] Coverage and a livestream of the Texas Legislature by the Texas Tribune has been said to have been the reason that the bill became national, and later international, news.[33]

Psychedelic rock band The Bright Light Social Hour were in the gallery during Senator Davis's filibuster of the first special session. The following morning the band released the song "Wendy Davis," based on the chants of the protesting crowd. The song was accompanied by a video made with protest footage taken from the band's phones, which was featured in MSNBC's coverage of the event.[34][35]

Images of the placard carried by pro-choice activists Billy Joe Cain, his daughter Tuesday, with the message "JESUS isn't a DICK; so keep him OUT of MY VAGINA!" went viral, the resultant controversy was reported nationally and internationally.[36][37][38]


Many people who are against the bill have opposed the requirement that would force clinics to follow the same standards as surgical centers, since it could lead to the closure of the clinics and result in large areas of the state to not have access to a clinic.[39] Many major medical groups such as the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Family Physicians, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists argue that this bill is damaging to women's health by closing clinics and adding undue obstacles and medical expenses that can push abortions into the second trimester.[40][41] Supporters of the legislation have stated that the purpose of the new law is to protect women’s health and unborn children, citing precedents like the recent Kermit Gosnell case.[39][42]

Abortion access in the state of Texas has seen a serious decline since the passage of Senate Bill 5. There were 44 facilities that performed abortions in Texas in 2011, When the law is fully implemented in September, that number is expected to drop to six. Amy Hagstrom Miller, the chief executive of Whole Woman’s Health, which has challenged provisions of the law in court. "I tried everything I can. I just can’t keep the doors open.”[43]


A 2017 National Bureau of Economic Research paper used the legislation to identify the effects of abortion access. The study found that "as the distance to the nearest abortion provider increases from less than 25 miles to 25-50 miles, there is little change in rates of legally induced abortions. But an increase to 50-100 miles reduces legal abortion rates by 16 percent, an increase to 100-200 miles reduces abortion rates by 32 percent, and an increase to 200 or more miles reduces abortion rates by 47 percent. We also introduce a proxy for congestion that predicts additional reductions in abortion rates as fewer clinics serve more women."[44]

Another 2017 National Bureau of Economic Research paper found that "In-state abortions fell 20% and births rose 3% in counties that no longer had an abortion provider within 50 miles. Births increased 1% and contraceptive purchases rose 8% in counties without a publicly-funded family planning clinic within 25 miles."[45]

A 2016 study interviewed 23 women in Texas who had sought abortions at clinics that were no longer providing such services. It found that because of the clinic closures caused by the law, women became confused about where to obtain abortion services. The same study found that most of the women interviewed had to spend more money and time to obtain abortion services, and that their privacy was compromised by having to travel further than they previously had to.[46] Another 2016 study by the same research team found that Texas women whose nearest clinic closed had to travel on average 85 miles to have abortions, while women whose nearest clinic did not close had to travel an average of 22 miles.[47]

Court challenge[edit]

After the law was passed, a group of abortion providers filed suit in the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas seeking an injunction preventing enforcement of the admitting-privileges provision as applied to physicians at two abortion facilities, one operated by Whole Woman’s Health in McAllen and the other operated by Nova Health Systems in El Paso. They also sought an injunction prohibiting enforcement of the surgical-center provision statewide. In August 2014, the District Court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs and issued the sought injunction. In October, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit stayed the injunction. Two weeks later, the Supreme Court vacated the stay, allowing the injunction to take effect during Texas's appeal of the district court's ruling. On June 9, 2015, the Court of Appeals unanimously overturned the lower court's ruling, finding that neither abortion restriction placed an undue burden on women as mandated in Planned Parenthood v. Casey. Later that month, the Supreme Court stayed the Fifth Circuit's ruling by a 5–4 vote, preventing the restrictions from being enforced once again. On June 27, 2016, the Supreme Court ruled 5–3 that the Texas abortion restrictions are unconstitutional, striking down the majority of the law.


  1. ^ Supreme Court strikes down Texas abortion law CNNPolitics.com Retrieved June 28, 2016.
  2. ^ Aaronson, Becca. Abortion Regulations Bill Nears Final Vote, Texas Tribune, July 12, 2013.
  3. ^ Abcarian, R. (June 26, 2013). "Wendy Davis took on Texas bullies on abortion and won". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved June 26, 2013. 
  4. ^ "Texas abortion bill falls after challenge". The Eagle. Associated Press. June 26, 2013. Archived from the original on June 28, 2013. Retrieved June 26, 2013. 
  5. ^ Lindell, Chuck; Ward, Mike (June 26, 2013). "Dewhurst declares abortion bill dead, blames 'unruly mob'". Austin American-Statesman. Retrieved June 27, 2013. 
  6. ^ "83(1) SB 5 - Introduced Version - Bill Text". Texas Legislature Online. Retrieved July 2, 2013. 
  7. ^ a b Tinsley, Anna. Texas House gives its final approval to new abortion restrictions, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, July 10, 2013
  8. ^ "House Research Organization bill analysis" (PDF). Texas Legislature Online. Retrieved October 1, 2013. 
  9. ^ "Senate Journal: 4th Day Proceedings" (PDF). Texas Legislature Online. Retrieved October 1, 2013. 
  10. ^ Tomlinson, C.; Vertuno, J. (June 26, 2013). "Marathon filibuster: Overnight drama stalls Texas abortion vote". KHOU. Archived from the original on June 28, 2013. Retrieved June 26, 2013. 
  11. ^ Sutton, J.; Smith, M. (June 25, 2013). "Lawmaker's filibuster to kill Texas abortion bill ends early". CNN. Retrieved June 26, 2013. 
  12. ^ a b King, Michael (June 26, 2013). "Yea or Nay?". The Austin Chronicle. Retrieved June 26, 2013. 
  13. ^ "Liveblog: Senators Trying to Determine if Abortion Bill Passed". The Texas Tribune. June 26, 2013. Retrieved June 26, 2013. 
  14. ^ Helen Davidson (June 26, 2013). "Wendy Davis filibuster and public protest defeat Texas abortion bill: Texas senator stages 11-hour filibuster to block bill • Vote derailed, lieutenant governor blames 'mob'". The Guardian. Retrieved June 26, 2013. 
  15. ^ Gill, K. (June 26, 2013). "Texas Legislature Changes Timestamps on SB5 Votes". The Moderate Voice. Retrieved June 26, 2013. 
  16. ^ a b Poladian, C. (June 26, 2013). "Changing Timestamp Mystery Continues After Texas Abortion Bill Defeat, Wendy Davis Filibuster". International Business Times. Retrieved June 26, 2013. 
  18. ^ Wiggins, M. (June 29, 2013). "Confusion, not conspiracy, to blame for abortion vote controversy". KVUE. Archived from the original on June 29, 2013. Retrieved June 29, 2013. 
  19. ^ "Public Integrity Unit reviewing date change on SB5 vote". KXAN. June 29, 2013. Archived from the original on June 30, 2013. Retrieved June 29, 2013. 
  20. ^ "Texas Gov. Rick Perry calls 2nd special session to pass abortion bill". CBS News. June 26, 2013. Retrieved June 26, 2013. 
  21. ^ Associated Press (June 26, 2013). "Texas Gov. Perry calls second special session on abortion". Fox News. Retrieved June 26, 2013. 
  22. ^ "New life for Texas abortion bill blocked by Wendy Davis". BBC News. June 26, 2013. Retrieved June 26, 2013. 
  23. ^ http://www.torontosun.com/2013/07/13/texas-passes-abortion-restriction-bill
  24. ^ Abortion, Protests, Transportation as Session Nears End | The Texas Tribune
  25. ^ a b Schwartz, John. Texas Senate Vote Puts Bill Restricting Abortion Over Final Hurdle, New York Times, July 2013.
  26. ^ a b Weiner, Rachel. Texas state Senate passes abortion restrictions, Washington Post, July 13, 2013.
  27. ^ a b MacLaggan, Corrie. Texas passes abortion restriction bill, governor certain to sign, Reuters, July 13, 2013.
  28. ^ Luthra, Shefali. Perry Signs Abortion Bill into Law, Texas Tribune, July 18, 2013.
  29. ^ Woodruff, Betsy. Texas: How Pro-Lifers Won, National Review, July 2013.
  30. ^ #StandWithWendy: Social Media Erupts As Sen. Wendy Davis Filibusters Abortion Bill
  31. ^ Wendy Davis and the people's filibuster cries victory for social media too - Capitol Report - MarketWatch
  32. ^ Texas filibuster on abortion bill rivets online - CNN.com
  33. ^ A Lively Political Press In A State Where Everything's Bigger : It's All Politics : NPR
  34. ^ Lynn, Chris Apollo (June 27, 2013). "The Bright Light Social Hour Release Powerful New Anthem "Wendy Davis" in Response To SB5". Republic of Austin. Retrieved December 29, 2013. 
  35. ^ "Interview: What inspired The Bright Light Social Hour to record a song for political hero Wendy Davis". LYFSTYL. Retrieved September 24, 2015. 
  36. ^ "14-yr-old girl's poster referring Jesus as 'dick' leaves netizens enraged". Daily Bhaskar. 2013-07-27. Retrieved 2 August 2013. 
  37. ^ "Texas girl receives flurry of insults for controversial pro-abortion sign". The Observers. Retrieved 2 August 2013. 
  38. ^ Killalea, Debra (2013-07-23). "Tuesday Cain labelled a 'whore' for holding women's rights sign". news.com.au. Retrieved 2 August 2013. 
  39. ^ a b Manny Fernandez & Erik Eckholm, Texas House Restricts Abortions in a Move That Could Force Clinics to Shut The New York Times June 25, 2013
  40. ^ Nina Totenberg, Supreme Court Tests Texas' New Restrictions On Abortion, March 2, 2016
  41. ^ Amicus Brief by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Medical Association, December 19, 2013.
  42. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-10-29. Retrieved 2013-10-28. 
  43. ^ https://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/07/us/citing-new-texas-rules-abortion-provider-is-shutting-last-clinics-in-2-regions.html?_r=0
  44. ^ Cunningham, Scott; Lindo, Jason M.; Myers, Caitlin; Schlosser, Andrea (April 2017). "How Far Is Too Far? New Evidence on Abortion Clinic Closures, Access, and Abortions". NBER Working Paper No. 23366. doi:10.3386/w23366. 
  45. ^ Fischer, Stefanie; Royer, Heather; White, Corey (July 2017). "The Impacts of Reduced Access to Abortion and Family Planning Services: Evidence from Texas". NBER Working Paper No. 23634. doi:10.3386/w23634. 
  46. ^ Fuentes, Liza; Lebenkoff, Sharon; White, Kari; Gerdts, Caitlin; Hopkins, Kristine; Potter, Joseph E.; Grossman, Daniel (April 2016). "Women's experiences seeking abortion care shortly after the closure of clinics due to a restrictive law in Texas". Contraception. 93 (4): 292–297. doi:10.1016/j.contraception.2015.12.017. PMC 4896137Freely accessible. PMID 26768858. 
  47. ^ Gerdts, Caitlin; Fuentes, Liza; Grossman, Daniel; White, Kari; Keefe-Oates, Brianna; Baum, Sarah E.; Hopkins, Kristine; Stolp, Chandler W.; Potter, Joseph E. (17 March 2016). "Impact of Clinic Closures on Women Obtaining Abortion Services After Implementation of a Restrictive Law in Texas". American Journal of Public Health. 106: e1–e8. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2016.303134. PMC 4985084Freely accessible. PMID 26985603. 

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