Last night, my state senator, Wendy Davis, staged a courageous 13-hour filibuster on SB 5, a bill that would effectively shut down all but five abortion clinics in Texas. Please don’t stop reading. This is not a blog about pro choice/pro life issues. I long ago recognized that people’s personal beliefs in relation to when life begins are deeply held and, frankly, not an appropriate subject for a humorous blog. I’m pro choice. Some of my dearest friends believe life begins at conception. It is what it is.
As I said, this blog is not about abortion. It’s about the courage of one woman to stand as a voice for thousands. It’s about democracy and government. It’s about what we in the United States hold dear to our fundamental beliefs … that the government is a voice of the people.
Yesterday at 11:00 a.m. Wendy started a filibuster to kill SB5 on the last day of the special session. She would have to stand for 13 hours, with no food or water, no bathroom breaks. She was not afforded the opportunity to lean on her desk. She could not leave her desk when taking questions from other members. And, perhaps most importantly, she had to talk about issues germane to the bill. For over 12 hours, aided by her Democratic colleagues, Wendy stood on the floor of the Texas Senate while the other members attempted to thwart her filibuster with objections and points of order. In the end, with 30 minutes remaining, the chair and the other Republican members attempted to hammer the bill through by raising a point of order relating to germaneness. Wendy was discussing the abortion pill. It was an obvious attempt to thwart the procedures of the Senate.
In my 45 years, I’ve never seen anything like what followed. The gallery went CRAZY with people shouting for Wendy to be allowed to speak. ‘Shame, shame, shame’ they chanted. The chair called for state troopers to clear the third-floor gallery. I’m told the people locked arms and would not be cleared. Ultimately, this spontaneous outburst resulted in the Senate missing a procedural step which killed the bill. I think we all know that Governor Perry will simply call another session and pass the bill because he so values life (ironically on the eve of Texas’ 500th execution). Frankly, I hope he does. Women of this state have been silent too long. Despite your position, you could not watch this 5-foot-4, 110 lb woman fight with her voice and her body and not be moved. I promised myself last night that, if I had the power to make it happen, I would never again allow my 12-year-old daughter to hear the words “The chair has called for state troopers to clear the gallery.”
‘The chair has called for state troopers to clear the gallery.’ The arrogance of it is overwhelming.
It reminded me of the time the city of Fort Worth asked me to travel to Austin to give testimony on a bill relating to hotel taxes. I drove three hours to arrive at the Senate at 9:00 a.m. The senator from Fort Worth, the one Wendy defeated, was introduced to me by the city’s lobbyist. His response, “If I wanted a fucking witness on the bill, I would have asked.” Right in front of my face.
The Texas Senate wields an amazing amount of power. And with that power comes a responsibility to both the people of Texas and the history and precedents of the body itself. Last night made a mockery of that history. Shame, indeed.
That being said, as I watched Wendy last night I was struck by her iron will and determination. Thirteen hours on her feet. My ironman which began this blog took me 15 plus hours. I finished with the help of hundreds of volunteers, a regular intake of fluids and nutrition, and a support network that rivaled NASA. Wendy stood alone with no such support. She didn’t need it. She is an Iron Woman.
When Wendy returns from Austin, I plan on giving her my Ironman medal from Tempe. It’s not valuable, other than it represents eight months of my life and one of the greatest and most inspirational moments I’ve shared with people I care about.
I can’t think of anyone I’d rather have it.