Wendy Davis waged filibuster against Texas abortion bill

She successfully killed the bill and stole the spotlight

WRITTEN BY: Chelsie Lacny
Protesters filled up the building during Tuesday's filibuster
Image Source: JaimeRPuente via flickr
Protesters filled up the building during Tuesday's filibuster

Wendy Davis is a woman you probably wouldn’t have known about before Tuesday, but now she is a nationwide celebrity. She is the current poster-woman for pro-choice activists after leading an 11-hour filibuster against a bill that would ban abortions past 20 weeks and put harsher regulations on abortion clinics throughout the state of Texas.

If the bill would have passed, all but five clinics in the entire state of Texas would have been required to shut down. Some women would have had to travel hundreds of miles to get an abortion, even a legal one completed before 20 weeks. The bill would have rendered it difficult, if not impossible, for these women to access the health care they require for the successful completion of a completely legal operation.

Wendy Davis, a Democratic state senator from District 10, saw the problem with a bill that would take away women’s access and rights to abortions. Her filibuster required her to stand for 11 hours, without food or water or bathroom breaks, and talk down the bill. Wendy Davis had tremendous support, both in the gallery and around the internet, and when the Republicans cited points of order as a reason to end her filibuster, the audience went crazy.

Some call it the “people’s filibuster.” Chaos filled the room for hours, and when Republican Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst attempted to call the final votes just before midnight, nobody heard him underneath the deafening screams of several hundred of Davis’s supporters.

Eventually, the voters ran out of time. The bill had to be voted on before midnight, and that failed. Originally, it was announced that the bill had passed with a 19-10 vote, but it was two minutes past midnight, and that was two minutes too late.   

The state legislative page showed inconsistencies between the days that the bill passed; originally the website showed that the bill passed on Wednesday, but it was soon edited to say the bill passed on Tuesday. This is shady politics at its finest, but the thousands of witnesses, both online and in person, wouldn’t allow an invalid vote to pass without a fight.

It was finally decided that Wendy Davis’s filibuster succeeded, and Senate Bill 5 was pronounced dead on Wednesday. However, Gov. Rick Perry is able to call as many sessions as he desires to get the bill to pass, and he has already called for another special session on July 1.

Regardless of what happens next week, Wendy Davis and her supporters have already shown that there is extreme opposition to this bill. It’s not necessarily about wanting to abort babies after 20 weeks of age; it’s about restricting access to abortion clinics and exercising control over women. The debate is ongoing, and it’s not likely to end very soon, but Wendy Davis did something great for her supporters. She showed that she is willing to stand up and fight for something that she thinks is wrong, and that she will continue to fight until the very end. 

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