State Sen. Wendy Davis (D-Fort Worth) is currently more than half way through an intended 13-hour filibuster of a Texas GOP-led bill aimed at imposing severe abortion restrictions(#SB5) that would close almost every abortion clinic in Texas. She’s not allowed bathroom breaks or even a drink of water. Her chair was removed prior to her beginning the filibuster, and she isn’t allowed to even lean on anything for support. Davis has to speak on topic continuously for the entire 13 hours.
Davis stands on the floor wearing pink tennis shoes. Republicans tried to stop the filibuster with various complaints, the latest apparently being that she allegedly violated the rule regarding leaning on a desk (4.0) when someone assisted her by handing a back brace to her. Seriously.
They want to be known not only as the men who legislate women’s reproductive systems, but also our backs. As of this writing, we are awaiting their ruling as to whether or not she will be allowed to continue, even though she didn’t lean on a desk. Ironically, given the nature of this bill, the rule as written using the male pronoun, a point made by Senator Judith Zafrinni. Legally, this means that as a female Senator, Davis is allowed to lean on a desk if she so chooses.
“State Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, is filibustering controversial legislation that would dramatically restrict access to abortions in Texas. Abortion opponents argue the measure would improve women’s safety, while reproductive rights advocates argue it would effectively cut off legal access to abortion in the state and endanger women’s health.”
The Dallas News’ Trailblazer blog gave insight into the scene, “Before a packed gallery bedecked in supportive orange shirts, Davis decried the pending legislation, which must be voted on by midnight to pass.”
“I’m rising on the floor today to humbly give voice to thousands of Texans who have been ignored,” Davis said. “These voices have been silenced by a governor who made blind partisanship and person political ambition the official business of our great state.”
At one point, Senator Davis revealed her own abortion experience stemming from an ectopic pregnancy, a dangerous medical situation that can kill the mother. She also read into the record heart-breaking stories of women and doctors who would be impacted by the bill.
As a reminder of what’s at stake, many women die from unsafe, illegal abortions. NOW recounted just a few of them (more at the link):
Clara Bell Duvall
Dec. 23, 1896 – March 27, 1929
Clara Duvall, her husband and five children (ages 6 months to 12 years) were living in Pittsburgh, Pa., with her parents due to limited financial resources when she learned she was pregnant again. Clara attempted a self-abortion with a knitting needle. Her doctor, knowing she was seriously ill and in severe pain, delayed sending her to a hospital for several weeks. The Catholic hospital where she died chose to list the cause of death as “pneumonia.”
Ruth Irene Friedl
Aug. 24, 1901 – Aug. 21, 1929
Denied a legal abortion though her pregnancy was diagnosed as life-threatening, Ruth Friedl attempted to self-abort by drinking a plant poison, ergot apiol. That night at the dinner table of their home in Denver, Colo., with her husband and two small children present, she collapsed and died.
Pauline Roberson Shirley
June 22, 1910 – August 22, 1940
Pauline Shirley and her six children were living with her mother in Arizona while her husband sought work in California. After an illegal abortion, she began to hemorrhage and was hospitalized. She needed massive transfusions. While Pauline’s mother searched the community for donors, Pauline bled to death.
December 12, 1925 – May 6, 1950
Vivian Campbell was the mother of two children ages five and three. She was newly separated from her husband when she realized she was pregnant. Sending her children to stay with her parents, she sought and obtained an illegal abortion. She sent for her husband, but by the time he arrived at the hospital it was too late. She died in agony of peritonitis.
August 16, 1935 – June 8, 1964
The photo of Geraldine Santoro dead on a hotel room floor has become a symbol for the horror of illegal abortion. Gerri, as she was known, lived on her family farm in Coventry, Conn., with her two daughters. At the age of 28, separated from her abusive husband, she became pregnant by another man, Clyde Dixon. Afraid that her husband would kill her if he found out, she and Dixon looked for ways to terminate her pregnancy. With no other options, they attempted to perform the procedure themselves. When the operation went awry, Dixon fled, leaving Santoro behind where she bled to death. A chambermaid found her body the next morning.
Davis’ filibuster aims to stop an anti-abortion bill from moving to the governor’s desk, and she’ll be going until 12 AM. You can share your story with Senator Davis here – she’s going to need material to keep this going, if she is allowed to continue, which she should be as this would only be her second warning.
#SB5, #StandWithWendy, and #txlege, are trending on Twitter Tuesday afternoon, pushing a Texas female Senator’s filibuster of an anti-abortion bill to the forefront of attention once again via social media.
History is being made today in this riveting filibuster.
Ms. Jones is the Editor-in-Chief of PoliticusUSA and a Huffington Post contributor. She has covered President Barack Obama, 2016 Democratic candidate for president Hillary Clinton, VP Joe Biden, Senator Elizabeth Warren, First Lady Michelle Obama, former President Bill Clinton, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including regular appearances on The Ann Walker Show With Scott Nevins for UBN Radio and KPTR 1450’s California Woman 411, The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, The Richard Dawkins Foundation and more.
Sarah has won two Telly Awards and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists. She graduated Magna Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa with a degree in Latin and Psychology, including studying the psychology of organized crime, with graduate studies in the psychology of linguistics and Latin poetry.