Feminist Fillibuster

College is the perfect time and place for experimentation. Even if you don’t go far from your high school and go to Bellevue College, you’re bound to meet new people. For some, the result of this experimentation is unwanted pregnancy.

No one knows this better than Texas Senator Wendy Davis. Senator Davis had a child shortly after high school before attending Tarrant County College then Texas Christian University. More recently, she stepped up to filibuster in the Texas Senate for thirteen hours.

She set out to stop Texas Senate Bill 5. SB5, as stated on the capitol’s website, “would amend the Health and Safety Code and the Occupations Code relating to the regulation of abortion procedures, providers, and facilities and providing penalties.” The bill is vague.

It does not state what they expect for standards of medical grade equipment or trained professionals. With the empty rhetoric of SB5, it was suspected the bill would be used to pull funding from free health clinics that also perform abortions. If that were the case, only one or two would remain in the five major cities of Texas leaving around seven free health clinics. Health clinics that, like those shut down, don’t exist to destroy life; they exist to provide health care to those who otherwise wouldn’t receive any.

During Davis’ filibuster she was held to strict regulations: no eating, no drinking, no leaving to use the bathroom, no leaning on anything. Further, Texas’ laws on filibustering differ from the federal government’s: the legislator must stay on topic. As her filibuster went on, it became clear this bill is about more than abortion rights; it’s about women’s rights.

She was called out for receiving help to put on a back brace. She was called out for sonograms—a procedure conducted with a piece of “medical grade equipment” that can determine whether a pregnancy’s term has reached 20 weeks or not—because they aren’t relevant to the topic of the bill. Senator Kirk Watson found rules that demonstrated the president inappropriately yielded the floor. Senator Judith Zaffrini said, “The rule under discussion states ‘the speaker shall stand at his desk and not lean thereon’ and as we are all fully aware, Senator Davis has not leaned on her desk. You know this, because many of you have been watching her every move. And if I may point out, Senator Davis is a woman. The rule specifically refers to ‘his’ desk. And as such, I would move that this rule does not apply to Senator Davis.”

This continued to 11:59 p.m., Central Time, when voting started. The gallery started chanting, “WENDY. WENDY. WENDY.” As the Senators could not hear what they were voting on, gallery members were arrested. As time passed, troopers joined the gallery in chanting. At 12:02 a.m., June 26, the day after the vote, the Senate submitted their vote to the site, illegally passing SB5.

Unfortunately for them, the world was watching. They were caught lying. A caucus of the senate was conducted.

They redacted the vote. SB5 was killed.

Wendy stood. Karina Davis, the parlimentarian, stood. Other senators stood. The people of Texas stood. Texas State Troopers stood. The world stood. And we won.