3 Things to Know About Wendy Davis' Rowdy, Badass Victory for Women in Texas
After Texas Republicans used their majority to cut off debate and force a vote on the gravely abortion-restricting bill SB5 Monday, female Texas democrats refused to take it from these right-wing bullies. Enter Texas State Senator Wendy Davis (D), who led an epic, eleven-hour filibuster that killed the insanely damaging (not to mention insulting to women) legislation. SB5 would have closed nearly every abortion clinic in the state, leaving only a handful of locations where women in Texas can safely and legally procure the procedure. It also would have outlawed abortion after 20 weeks, directly contradicitng Roe v. Wade.
Women in Texas -- and across the country -- won a huge victory yesterday, but the War on Women is far from over.
Here are 3 things to know about the rowdy, inspiring battle that went down yesterday in one of America's reddest states.
1. Wendy Davis and her Comrades, Ultimate Badasses, refused to back down
Davis literally stood with Texas woman for eleven hours, unable to even lean against a podium for support, let alone take a bathroom break or eat. Determined to strike down the bill to which she brought national attention, Davis flat-out refused to yield.
After hours of Davis delivering facts about the necessity of access to abortion and heartwrenching testimony from women across the country, Texas republicans decided they just couldn’t take any more of her talking and moved to shut her right up. They claimed she violated the filibuster’s “three-strike” rules, twice by allegedly veering off topic by bringing up topics like Planned Parenthood’s budget, mandatory sonograms, and Roe v. Wade (not “germaine,” the GOP claimed), and also by receiving assistance to strap on a backbrace. Shortly after 10 p.m., her Senate foes said she had broken the rules and the filibuster was over.
Attempts to silence Davis resulted in an in eruption of shouting, as supporters yelled “LET HER SPEAK!” At 11 p.m., Democratic senators challenged the end of the filibuster and debated the rules, postponing the vote about 11:45 p.m.. Backing Davis were Sen. Kirk Watson, Sen. Rodney Ellis and Sen. Leticia Van De Putte, who came from her father's funeral in San Antonio to stand with Davis and Texas women.
The crowd loudly refused to accept the filibuster's end. Chanting ensued for a straight 15 minutes, drowning out the vote.
Sen. Robert Lloyd Duncan asked for “order” to no avail, and the unruly crowd was ordered out of the building so that the Republicans could have their way and throw away women’s rights in some peace and quiet. But, oh no, it didn’t stop there.
2. The Senate Republican pulled some really shady shit.
The Senate passed the bill minutes after the midnight deadline, but the GOP went ahead and changed the document to pretend they met the deadline anyway:
The initial time stamp on the Capitol website and on Senate documents placed the vote at 12:02 or 12:03 on June 26. But then someone mysteriously changed the time stamp to make it appear SB5 passed before the deadline. The time stamp evidence, circulated on Twitter, eventually forced GOP leaders to admit defeat, at least for tonight.
By 12:45 AM, protesters were cleared from the room, and a couple of hours later, the bill was officially dead. But it isn't over.
3. This has nationwide importance. As Sarah Seltzer writes on Medium:
What Davis was fighting, a kind of anti-choice ram-rodding in the statehouse, isn’t unusual. In fact, restricting reproductive rights is one of the most common tactics the state-level GOP has used across the country since the wave of Tea Party candidates took office in 2010, punching holes in the rights afforded by Roe every year. It was called the “War on Women” by national media in 2011. But it never stopped.
Local activists in red states have been fighting hard and mustering force against these provisions, but have — with notable exceptions, like the outcry against Virginia’s forced transvaginal ultrasound law — been unable to stop the overall steamroll of anti-choice legislation. Even now, bills linger in Ohio and Wisconsin. They may still pass.
We’ve watched our rights get chipped away until they’re nominal. It’s been agonizing.
And yet, the victory in Texas is proof that women, united, can overcome even the most hard-headest, asinine attempts to strip us of our rights. As women chanted in Texas last night, "The people, united, can never be defeated."