Health

Watching History Unfold – Senator Wendy Davis filibusters archaic abortion law in Texas

Senator Wendy Davis filibustering FB5 in Texas Senate. Photo courtesy of Stand With Wendy Facebook page
Senator Wendy Davis filibustering FB5 in Texas Senate. Photo courtesy of Stand With Wendy Facebook page

Yesterday, on June 25th, I along with up to 200,000 others watched live streaming from the Texas Senate as Senator Wendy Davis took the floor to filibuster Senate Bill 5 (SB5), a horrific piece of legislation that would have closed down most abortion providers in Texas and banned abortion after 20 weeks. Under legislative rules in Texas, Senator Davis was able to delay the vote for as long as she was able to talk continuously about her objections to the bill without stopping to eat, drink, use the bathroom, sit down, or lean into anything. Senator Davis started her fight around 11am on Tuesday – and the events that followed were nothing short of inspiring and incredible.

After hours of relentless filibustering and exceptional stamina, Senator Davis’ filibuster was halted by Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst (R), who considered Davis’ remarks about ultrasound to be “not germane”, i.e. not relevant, to the abortion bill – a ridiculous claim to make, especially given how fond of ultrasounds Texas Republicans have been with their previous abortion bills.

The crowd in the Senate gallery erupted in roars, shouting “Let Her Speak!” while Twitter exploded with demands to allow the van de putte quotefilibuster to continue. Senate Democrats, namely Senator Leticia Van De Putte and Senator Kirk Watson, stepped up to delay the proceedings through parliamentary inquiries. Van De Putte turned Texas Senate into what resembled more a rock concert as she at one point stood up and asked the presiding president: “At what point must a female senator raise her hand or her voice to be recognized over the male colleagues in the room”.

As midnight neared, the viewers in the gallery started what is now being called “The People’s Filibuster”, erupting in cheers, roars and chants, essentially stopping the proceedings. The clock finally hit midnight, but Republicans still attempted to vote on the bill, claiming the vote had started before midnight. The final ruling did not come until hours later – declaring SB5 dead.

What Wendy Davis did was not only courageous and inspirational, but also a measure that most likely saved the lives of countless women in the state of Texas. Abortion discussions are almost always presented as “pro-life” versus “pro-choice” – but I think this is a false dichotomy.  Nobody is “pro-abortion,” and everyone believes that we should minimize women’s need for abortion services – but blocking women’s access to abortion and other reproductive and sexual health services is not only careless and dangerous, but against their legal and human rights. Abortion rates are brought down through education, health services, sexual education in schools, affordable and accessible contraceptives, access to information and facts, proper maternity and paternity benefits – not by making life saving services illegal or hard to obtain. The recent trend in the U.S. to throw women’s reproductive rights back to the stone ages is not only extremely scary, but also speaks volumes about the fact that women are still viewed as passive recipients with no or little control over their own bodies and own health. The fact that majority of the people trying to push this particular law in Texas were – you guessed it – privileged, wealthy men is a testament to the skewed nature of the sexual and reproductive health discussion in the U.S.

The decision of abortion should never be the State’s or the government’s. The government won’t carry the consequences of that child. The government won’t feed the child, love the child, or educate the child. Abortion is never an easy decision, nor should it be treated as one – but it also should never be a decision dictated by senators or politicians. What happened in Texas was nothing short of miraculous. It was a testament not only to the incredible determination of Senator Davis, but also to the power of democracy. Texans in the gallery and people from across the country rose up against an oppressive bill and demanded their voices to be heard and rights to be respected, and those voices were too loud to be ignored. This must continue – so let’s be inspired by Senator Wendy Davis and others like her, and let’s continue the fight for women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights to be recognized and realized. I Stand With Wendy – and I hope you do too.

•    To find more information about this issue, and ways to get involved, visit Planned Parenthood website
•    Though the filibuster succeeded, the fight is not over. Stand with Wendy and share your story!

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Category: Health
Tagged with: Abortion    Reproductive Health    reproductive rights    SB5    Senate Bill 5    sexual health    Texas Senate    Wendy Davis    women's rights

Emma Saloranta

Emma is an advocate and a feminist who is passionate about using creative and innovative approaches to expanding women's and girls' opportunity to live the kind of lives the choose. A native of Finland, Emma has worked in the U.S., Kenya, India and Brazil, and currently lives in Tanzania with her husband and toddler son. Follow @Emmasalor on Twitter and Emma.saloranta on Instagram.

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  • I watched the People’s Filibuster, and was amazed that the crowd sustained it for 15 minutes. And I loved your line: “The government won’t carry the consequences of that child”. That is so true, and so overlooked. Great post!

    • Emma Saloranta

      Hi Little Bird’s Dad, and welcome to Girls’ Globe! We are happy to have you here!
      I agree – watching the People’s Filibuster was incredible, invigorating and inspiring! Thank you for your kind and encouraging words, and we hope to see you here again!

  • good to see people make a stand, i lost a friend, a very close friend, who had three abortions, who felt unable to carry the burden of motherhood. why not accept the fact, without pushing an ideal, that all we need to do is support motherhood everywhere.

    • Emma Saloranta

      Hi bwcarey, and thank you for visiting Girls’ Globe and sharing your thoughts with us! I agree – supporting safe motherhood through proper systems, benefits, day care, health care and social services should be a priority. Let’s hope we’ll get there, not only in the US but around the world – and for now, let’s celebrate this victory with Wendy Davis!

      • sometimes making the sacrifice is what it’s about, it’s like climbing the mountain of hope, might seem difficult, but you get there. i blog about the sexualised world alot, and the harm it is having on little children, and the attitude is has sown in the eyes and hearts of so many.

  • michael mazur

    As all of the third world immigrant cultures have strong prohibitions against abortion, then it must follow that members of the host culture will have become extinct by 2100. Blonde Wendy Davis is cheerleading the extinction of her own kind, and doesn’t know it.

    • Emma Saloranta

      Dear Michael,
      Thank you for visiting Girls’ Globe and sharing your opinion with us – but I do have to state that I strongly agree with it. I do not believe at all that providing access to safe abortion risks any culture, ethnicity or race becoming extinct. For most women and couples, abortion is a last resort, and something no one takes lightly. However, reality is that women get pregnant in situations where they do not want to see the pregnancy through – whether it be because of rape, health risks for fetus and/or mother, financial situation, or just feeling that they are not simply ready to become parents. We all believe that abortion rates should be minimized as much as possible, but the way to do that is not by making abortion illegal or hard to obtain, but through services, education, information, good and affordable health care and contraceptives and proper maternity and family benefits and support. Giving both men and women easier and more affordable ways to avoid unwanted pregnancies, and giving mothers and families support so that they don’t have to choose between having a baby and for example, having a job and getting a pay check, are effective ways to ensure that abortion rates stay as low as possible. Wendy Davis is not “cheerleading abortion” – Wendy Davis is standing up for women’s sexual and reproductive rights and health, and I am proud to stand with her.

  • loved this

    • Emma Saloranta

      Hi Jaclyna79! Thank you for visiting Girls’ Globe and for your encouraging and supporting comment! We hope to see you here again!

  • Not here to start throwing around my opinion or anything, I’m just a little confused… To shut down these abortion sites, who is going to do it if not the state or government? If no one is “pro abortion”, than why did Wendy do what she did? Just wondering!

    • Emma Saloranta

      Dear Hannah,
      Thank you for visiting Girls’ Globe and sharing your thoughts with us.
      Nobody wants to see high abortion rates – but the reality is that women do get pregnant in a variety of situations, including as a result of rape or in situations where they are not ready or able to carry out a pregnancy and have a baby. Roe vs. Wade made abortion a legal right in the United States, and it is a right I believe must be upheld. While the conservatives call for a smaller role of the State in every other possible way, for some reason they seem to think that it is perfectly fine for the State to take control over women’s bodies and reproductive decisions. In addition, the one thing that always seems to be forgotten in these debates is the role of men – women do not get pregnant on their own, and it is not just women who choose to, and want to, end unwanted pregnancies. Wendy did what she did so that women can have the right to choose when and how to have babies, and to stand up for women’s constitutional rights.

      • I guess I never understood because we talk about rights of the women in the situation.. what about the rights of the child? Like I said, not trying to throw around opinions here, but there is more than one life to think about when making such serious decisions.

        • Emma Saloranta

          I have a long background working on child rights and child protection, and abortion is most definitely not an easy, nor a black and white issue. However, I personally believe that no woman, or a couple, should be forced to have a child they did not want to have, and no baby should be brought into this world without them being loved and wanted. I do not believe any woman takes abortion lightly – and I am certain that in vast majority of cases, it is the hardest decision to make for both women and for the men who are also part of this equation. In addition, women also get pregnant as a result of rape, or can face life threatening health risks for carrying out their pregnancies. There are multiple reasons why women might need an abortion – and I do not believe it is the State’s right to make that decision for them.

          • I’m not saying its an easy choice to make, because in many cases I’m sure these women are confused and struggling. I just personally don’t understand why its even allowed in the first place. If you were raped, give the child up for adoption. If it is a life-threatening issue, you shouldn’t have have sex in the first place because for the child, it isn’t just a “life threatening issue.” Their life is threatened, then taken. Please don’t misunderstand me, I’m not trying to bash anyone’s beliefs or make a woman’s situation (be it rape, life-threatening, ect.) demeaning. I just feel like there are several more routes to take, and none of them should have to result in killing the baby. (Killing… The last time I heard, that was a crime…) There’s counseling, adoption, charities, organizations, churches… I believe it is black and white because there is right and wrong.
            I appreciate so much for your help in explaining not only your beliefs and outlook on abortion, but for answering the questions I had! I just want to finish with this quote and I won’t bother you any longer (my apologies for making this longer than I intended!): “I notice that those who are for abortion have already been born.” – President Ronald Reagan
            Thank you!

          • Emma Saloranta

            Dear Hannah,
            I appreciate the time you’ve taken to share your thoughts with us here at Girls’ Globe, and while I do not agree with your opinion, that does not mean I do not value it. I think discussion and dialogue are always important, and we never learn anything new, nor grow as human beings, if we do not listen to those we disagree with. I still believe that women should and need to have the right to choose abortion, and that the State should never dictate nor prevent that – but I respect your opinion, and thank you for sharing it with us!

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