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Special Report

All-Star Panel: Political theater in Texas Senate

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," June 26, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WENDY DAVIS, D – TEXAS, STATE SENATOR: Members, I'm rising on the floor today to humbly give voice to thousands of Texans who have been ignored.

In the end, we had 15 minutes left on the clock. As you probably witnessed, there were attempts to shove every rule aside in order to cram this vote through. And the voices of the people who were in the capital gallery tonight could not be silenced and it simply didn't allow the vote to be taken in time.

CAROL EVERETT, THE HEIDI GROUP: Most of the people walking in here think this bill will be a complete ban on abortions. It will not. It will simply protect the health of women in Texas.

BOB DEUELL, R – TEXAS, STATE SENATE: They're vulnerable and they don't always ask these questions. They don't know the doctor. We're going to make sure that that doctor provides for their immediate care if they have a complication.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Well, the back and forth. State Senator Wendy Davis from Fort Worth essentially filibustering for a little more than 10 hours and then getting some help from the crowd in the chamber there, pushed the deadline past where they could pass this abortion bill in Texas. And now the governor is calling back the lawmakers for a special session to do just that.

We are back with the panel. Susan, your take on this back and forth, and it looks like just by numbers, they have the votes to move it through now.

SUSAN MILLIGAN, U.S. NEWS AND WORLD REPORT: Yeah, now that he is calling the special session, surely they'll have it. It was handled so badly all the way around. I do have to give props to Texas for actually making somebody filibuster instead of doing what they do over there in the Senate, which is just threatening a filibuster. I say make somebody get up and talk.

But this effort to literally shut a woman up on the floor does not look good for the party, and it's coming on the heels of all this other stuff. Women don't think alike. Not all women are pro-choice on abortion. You can come down on that issue either way. But what is not a good idea is looking like you are bullying a woman or telling a woman that you are basically too stupid to make a decision on your own or too emotional to make a decision without somebody walking you through it.

And what they did on the floor I just think really makes the party look bad.

BAIER: Steve, the bill itself I think has been a confusing issue for some folks. It does not ban abortions across the board in Texas. It banned the procedure after 20 weeks of pregnancy. That's the 12th state to do so. Required clinics to upgrade their facilities to become ambulatory surgical centers and they need admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles. And that basically is in direct result of the Gosnell situation in Philadelphia.

STEVE HAYES, SENIOR WRITER, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: Right. And I think, you know, as others have pointed out. I mean these are similar laws that are prevalent throughout Western Europe. We have seen similar laws in states here.

But I think the Gosnell comparison is apt for another reason. It was absolutely fascinating last night as I was on my computer looking at Twitter to see the number of journalists who started tweeting about this filibuster and with, I think, enthusiasm and got people to tune in and watch the live broadcast of this.

There is no issue on which reporters are more one sided than on the issue of abortion. And we saw that -- certainly we saw that in spades with the Gosnell question when day after day, Fox was doing reports, others were doing reporting on what was happening in the trial. I mean, it was real news in terms of news value, absolutely riveting stuff that was happening in the courtroom. And it was largely ignored by the mainstream media.

Here you have one woman standing up talking about something, I would say mischaracterizing in some respects what is this law was doing, and the national political reporting scene explodes with enthusiasm for her efforts.

BAIER: Charles?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Well, it's an evening of procedural analysis. So I would say that neither the Republican leadership nor the Democrats distinguished themselves on procedure. They did not exactly allow her to go unmolested in the filibuster. There were a lot of interruptions and they tried to get her off the floor.

On the other hand, when you heard Wendy Davis speak about the people expressing themselves in the gallery, well, that's a mob expressing itself.

The people are represented on the floor through elections, democratic elections. That's the voice of the people. And the mob in the gallery prevented a vote. That's not how you want to conduct business in any state. And that's why I think it's absolutely right that the governor has recalled the Senate and they are going to have a real vote on this.

BAIER: Quickly, this is Governor Perry's call to a special session July 1st. "I'm calling the legislature back into session because too much important work remains undone for the people of Texas. We will not allow the breakdown of decorum and decency to prevent us from doing what the people of this state hired us to do." But political fallout, you think?

MILLIGAN: Yeah. I mean I agree with Charles. I don't like people disrupting a session at all. But I just think that the takeaway from that is not even on the substance of the bill itself. And it's more than just banning borings after 20 weeks. It's basically effectively closing a lot of clinics. It's they looked like they were trying to shut up this female legislature. It just doesn't look good.

BAIER: That is it for the panel, but stay tuned for a new take on obedience training.

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