Senator Wendy Davis, a Fort Worth Democrat, made history Tuesday with a 12 and half hour filibuster of an extremely restrictive GOP-led anti-abortion bill in Texas.
Davis’ filibuster was successful, at least for now. Today, the women at UltraViolet want to thank her for her “herculean effort to block one of the most restrictive anti-abortion bills in the country bill from becoming law.”
The Republicans tried to stop Senator Davis’ filibuster for women’s health three times, once objecting to someone handing her a back brace, which they claimed was evidence of her breaking the rule against “leaning” on something. Pause for observation of just how pathetic Republicans appear.
Wendy Davis was allowed to continue her filibuster until the third objection, albeit without bathroom breaks or water, and being watched by desperately eagle-eyed Republican men on the lookout for the smallest crack through which they could push their anti-women agenda.
At the third Republican objection, the crowd chanted, “Let her speak!”
Eventually the filibuster was ended by Republicans, who claimed that Senator Davis veered “off topic” when she discussed a 2011 law involving sonograms and abortions. (Note that “filibusters” done by the boys in DC do not need to stay on topic, but Senator Davis was required to stay on topic during her entire filibuster.) Somehow Republicans don’t think it’s off topic to add anti-abortion amendments to flood insurance bills, but sonograms are way off topic.
Republicans still managed to miss their midnight deadline by mere minutes, due in part to their own incompetence and in part to outbursts from the gallery of Davis supporters. For this, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, acting as Senate President, blamed the “unruly mob” supporting Wendy Davis, disdainfully blaming the “people’s filibuster” for his inability to control the chamber, as if it were a bad thing to have the will of the people represented. In other words, “Hush, ladies in the gallery, while the VIP Republican men decide your medical fate. How dare you interfere by voicing an opinion on your freedom and individual liberty. Bad girls.”
Senator Davis wasn’t impressed with Dewhurst’s qualification of the citizens in the gallery, either. She told the Dallas News, “I think that’s a disservice to the people who were here. The people who were here were justifiably upset about an attempt to infringe upon a constitutional right they hold dear, primarily one that would have an impact on women but also on the men who love them.”
UltraViolet urged supporters to thank the Senator for her efforts, “Late last night, Sen. Davis won–as did women in Texas and across America. This dangerous bill has been tabled, for now. When a champion like Sen. Davis stands up for women–especially in a state as hostile to women’s health as Texas–we need to stand up for her, too. Can you sign on to our thank you card to Sen. Davis?”
Sign the thank you card because there are too few champions for women in our male dominated legislatures, and because when an elected official actually filibusters a bill the proper way, it’s a rare occurrence worthy of commendation.
President Obama noticed, tweeting Tuesday night, “Something special is happening in Austin tonight. #StandWithWendy”
It’s a sad commentary on the Republican Party that they couldn’t even stand to listen as Senator Davis spoke about women’s health — an issue she knows a heck of a lot more about than they do — without trying to shut her down.
The truth of the matter is they have the wind at their back in GOP-dominated Texas, and they can call a special session to pass their bill to shut down almost every abortion clinic in Texas, so there was no reason for their petty petulance other than their unwillingness to hear an actual woman speak about women’s health issues. But at least they had to hear the consequences thanks to Senator Davis.
When women are dying in Texas due to unsafe, illegal abortions, the Republican Party can’t say they didn’t know it would happen.
Note: There are differing times given for Davis’ total filibuster, ranging from 11-13 hours.
Ms. Jones is the editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA.
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 Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah has won two Telly Awards and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.