“I’m rising on the floor today to humbly give voice to thousands of Texans who are being ignored”
In reality, Wendy Davis did much more than that – she stood up for women all across the country and proved that we will not sit idly by while state legislatures take away our constitutional rights. Wendy Davis is a democratic senator who spoke for 10 hours and 45 minutes on Monday to prevent the Texas state legislature from passing SB 537, a bill that would severely restrict abortion access. Her filibuster successfully prevented the legislature from approving the bill before their midnight deadline.
SB 537, if successful, would have severe consequences for women’s reproductive freedom. According to Pro-Choice Texas, this bill would ban all abortions after 20-weeks of pregnancy, one of the strictest restrictions in the country. Also, it would require that every abortion care facility comply with the standards of an “ambulatory surgical center”, an expensive requirement that would force all but five abortion clinics in the state of Texas to close. That means that some Texans would have to drive hundreds of miles to get to their nearest provider, a ridiculous and unnecessary burden.
The motivation for this bill is clearly to further restrict access to abortion, although proponents of the bill are not being upfront about their intentions. Senator Deuell claimed that the restrictions were an attempt to protect women – “This is really about women’s health, sometimes bad things can happen.” Wendy then asked why other procedures such as vasectomies and colonoscopies do not have the same requirements. She openly accused the senate republicans of being dishonest by saying “Because I’ve been unable to have a simple question answered to help me understand how this would lead to better care for women, I must question the underlying motive for doing so.”
The rules for a filibuster are extremely strict. Throughout her speech she was not allowed to sit, eat or drink, use the bathroom, lean against anything, or digress from the topic of the bill. Luckily, her efforts were successful and stalled the approval of the bill until 12:02 AM, two minutes passed the midnight deadline. Some reports are calling this a peoples filibuster because in the end, it was chants from the crowd that caused enough confusion to delay the bill.
Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood commented:
“It’s been amazing … Folks are beginning to connect the dots … This is, in fact, the most aggressive attack on women’s rights and women’s health that we’ve seen in Texas in decades. People are voting with their feet. To see a people’s filibuster in this Capitol is quite inspiring”
It’s hard not to be inspired by what happened in Austin this week. I am so grateful that there are women like Wendy in our government- women who are willing to put themselves through pain to protect the rights of women in their state. In the heavily male Texas Senate, it is so important that she is there fighting to women’s rights. The entire country is taking notice of Davis’ strength and perseverance. Her twitter feed went from 1,500 twitter followers to 20,000 by the end of the day (she currently have over 100,000) and 150,000 people watched the live stream of her speech on Youtube. She even earned a twitter shoutout from President Obama. I am thrilled that the press is taking notice and calling Wendy exactly what she is – a hero for women everywhere.
- Wendy Davis on Texas’ ‘tremendous victory’ (nbcnews.com)
- Davis Abortion Filibuster Suspended by GOP Lawmakers (Huffington Post)
- Wendy Davis’s remarkable filibuster to deny passage of abortion bill (The Guardian)
- Abortion Rights Under Fire:Why Wendy Davis’ Filibuster Matters (Rolling Stone – Politics)