Leadership

Pro-Choice Texan Winds Up Winning in the Wee Hours

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

After confusion about when the Texas legislature voted on a sweeping anti-abortion bill, victory was handed to Democrat Wendy Davis and her by-now famous pink sneakers.




Texas Democrat State Sen. Wendy Davis
Texas Democrat State Sen. Wendy Davis

Credit: EqualityTexas on Flickr, under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

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(WOMENSENEWS)--In an 11-hour filibuster, Democratic State Sen. Wendy Davis--after some late-night, early morning confusion--succeeded in running out the clock on the session of the Texas legislature and a bill championed by Gov. Rick Perry and Republicans.

That meant she halted Senate Bill 5 (S.B. 5), which would have criminalized abortions after 20 weeks of gestation and threatened the existence of most of Texas' women's health clinics by imposing hospital-style building standards.

In the process the lawmaker and her famous pink sneakers became a sensation among pro-choice advocates.

Meme aggregator Buzzfeed collected "Stand With Wendy" related Web posts.

The filibuster began 18 minutes after the beginning of the opening session, reported The New York Times, and needed to last until midnight when the 30-day special session would expire. Under Texas' parliamentary rules, Davis was required to speak continuously and only on the topic of the bill the entire time. She couldn't take breaks to eat, take a sip of water or go to the bathroom. She could not lean against anything for support. As the clock approached 12, Davis was called out on her third violation by Lt. Gov. Davis Dewhurst when he accused her of speaking off topic. Amidst the confusion, noise from the activists and citizens from the upper mezzanine of the legislative chambers, a vote was reached 19-10 in favor of S.B. 5.

With the clock still running, Davis' colleagues stepped up. State Sen. Leticia Van De Putte, who arrived at the Capitol in the afternoon after spending the morning at her father's funeral, challenged Republican leaders at the podium who did not recognize one of her attempts to speak: "At what point does a female senator need to raise her voice to be heard over the male colleagues in the room?," reported Rolling Stone magazine.

Republicans initially claimed victory, but by 3 a.m. official reports and computer records displayed the vote as taken place on Wednesday, the Washington Post reported.

The New York Times reported that the official legislative website originally held the bill as passed on Wednesday but later changed it to Tuesday. Rolling Stone magazine reported evidence of Republican tampering with the official timestamp before conceding a loss.

Republican lawmakers in Texas who sought passage of the abortion restrictions include Rep. Jody Laubenberg, who suggested that a rape-testing kit was a form of abortion. "In the emergency room they have what's called rape kits where a woman can get cleaned out," the Associated Press quoted the lawmaker as saying June 24 as a reason for not including an exception for rape victims.

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