Last night, after a long day at work finishing the newspaper, I had planned on sitting down to do some writing, watch some TV and play a video game. What I did instead was something completely different, as I kept watching a live feed on Youtube.
Something really impressive happened last night. I don’t often go into politics about a particular State in the Union, mostly my political rants are a lot closer to home or if it’s something of national attention that can affect other countries. But yesterday, Texas Democrat Senator Wendy Davis began a filibuster of a potentially restrictive law that would close all but five abortion clinics in the State of Texas. She talked for twelve and a half hours, always kept on topic even when Republican senators tried to interrupt and state she was not on topic. At one point, a Senator tried to bring up a point of order that Senator Davis received assistance to stand while talking when someone helped her with a back brace. Another point of order stated that sonograms have nothing to do with abortions, unless you take into context that Texas law demands a woman have a sonogram before getting an abortion.
When it seemed Davis was going to lose her filibuster, other Democratic senators began picking up the slack. Leticia Van de Putte, Kirk Watson, Royce West, and Judith Zaffirini bringing up points of order and parliamentary inquires. Van de Putte had the most talked about quote of the night.
“At what point must a female senator raise her voice to be recognized by her male colleagues?”
As the clock ticked down, even the thousands who had gathered helped with the filibuster, chanting, singing and even calling out Republican Senators when the clock read 12:01 a.m. with calls of “Shame, shame, shame” as it appeared the members were going to vote on a bill past the midnight deadline. In the end, SB5 was declared dead, with many Republican Senators, including the Lt. Governor David Dewhurst, who said “I know it’s late and I’m sorry but I’ve got a couple of sentence I want to say and that’s really all I want to say for this evening. This is the most incredible thing I’ve ever seen in my life. An unruly mob using Occupy Wall Street tactics has tried all day to derail legislation that has been intended to protect the lives and the safety of women and babies. SB 5 passed 19-10 but with all the ruckus and noise going on I couldn’t adjourn sine die pending completion of administrative duties. And right now I cannot sign the … bill. So I’m very frustrated.” Dewhurst blamed failure to pass the bill on the people who had gathered to support Davis and the other Democratic Senators, even going so far as to compare the crowd to an unruly mob.
The bottom line is that Texas, like many States, are trying to pass restrictive, oppressive, and misogynist legislation which strips women of a constitutional right to make their own decisions. In this case, whether they wish to terminate a pregnancy. And what we saw last night was a group of people unwilling to let that happen, and they succeeded in the end. SB5 was eventually killed.
It was educational and interesting to watch, even when Republican Senators tried to break the rules and vote after the deadline.