Political drama of the highest order unfolded here in Austin late Tuesday night. Conservative legislators planned to pass new restrictions and onerous regulations on clinics offering pregnancy counseling for thousands of women in Texas. By yesterday they were under the gun, the session due to close at midnight, with a key piece of the Republican war on women still waiting in the wings like an old sing-song bill waiting on capital hill. Then state senator Wendy Davis got the floor, refused to yield, and the people’s filibuster was on:
At 11:18 a.m. this morning, State Senator Wendy Davis began a filibuster against SB5, which includes some of the most restrictive anti-woman anti-choice regulations in the nation. … For more on what this awful bill does, click here.
According to rules of the senate, she could take no bathroom breaks, could not eat or drink anything, and could not even lean or sit or otherwise use any desk or chair. Despite these restrictions, Davis stood her ground and spoke passionately, non stop, through the day, into the evening, and on toward midnight. Real and virtual crowds grew, #SB5 exploded to become the top trending tag on Twitter. It became clear a new progressive champion was being born before our eyes, in the deep red Lone Star State of all places! But in the last few minutes the filibuster was shut down by Texas republicans on a dicey sounding technicality. It looked bleak.
The nation watched on Tuesday — and into Wednesday — as Democratic Sen. Wendy Davis and hundreds of impassioned reproductive rights advocates stalled proceedings and ultimately defeated controversial abortion legislation in a storm of screams and shouts as the clock struck midnight.”I am overwhelmed, honestly,” Davis said after standing for nearly 13 hours to filibuster Senate Bill 5, the abortion legislation. The outpouring of support from protesters at the Capitol and across the nation, she said, “shows the determination and spirit of Texas women and people who care about Texas women.”
Wendy Davis is no stranger to the worst kind of political intimidation. Her Fort Worth office was fire-bombed last year. She’s already being demonized for her stand last night. Expect the GOP to be back, soon, trying to slip this bill under our doors anyway they can. But for now you can drop Senator Davis — and all the progressives who are turning Texas blue — a note of encouragement here and here.