Senator Wendy Davis, With Help from a Lot of Pissed Off Texans, Kills Sweeping Abortion Bill

Categories: Politics

wendydavisfilibuster.jpg
@Bryan_Sweany
Wendy Davis, still standing after 11 hours after Republicans forced her to stop talking.
This wasn't supposed to happen. When Governor Rick Perry called a special legislative session and, later, tacked abortion onto the agenda, he was effectively declaring that the proposed restrictions, some of the toughest in the country, had enough support to become law. And he was right, in a way. Comfortable majorities of both the House and Senate -- if not of Texas as a whole -- were eager to see them pass.

What Perry misjudged, and misjudged rather badly, was the strength of the grassroots opposition to Republican lawmakers' anti-abortion crusade and, more importantly, Wendy Davis.

Davis didn't get to filibuster for 13 hours, as she had planned on. She'd made it through 11 hours of talking -- no food, water, or bathroom breaks -- when Republicans decided Davis had strayed off topic by discussing a previous session's law requiring abortion seekers to first get a sonogram. They'd decided the same thing earlier in the night when Davis referenced the Planned Parenthood budget, and she was also penalized for getting help from a colleague putting on a back brace. And under the Senate's filibuster rules, it's three strikes, you're out.

Democrats then unleashed some parliamentary trickery of their own. Once Davis was forced to stop talking not long after 10 p.m., her Senate colleagues picked up the slack by making an absurd number of parliamentary inquiries to stall a vote.

This strategy managed to eat up a considerable amount of clock, but then, as the minutes ticked away to the midnight end of the special session, Republicans ended debate and prepared to vote.

Then something crazy happened, crazier than the all-night citizen filibusters and absurd parliamentary tactics and rape-kits-prevent-pregnancy claims that had come before. The Senate gallery, packed tight with orange-clad pro-choice demonstrators, began to cheer. The din was such that Republicans were unable to conduct business and, despite pleas from the Senate president that they stop, they kept at it for a solid 15 or 20 minutes. That was just enough to push the session over the midnight deadline, thereby nullifying the vote senators eventually got around to taking.

Several hours later, Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst admitted defeat. He told reporters that the omnibus abortion bill was intended to protect women and babies but was derailed by "an unruly mob using Occupy Wall Street tactics."

"I didn't lose control of what we were doing," he said, according to the Texas Tribune. "We had an unruly mob."

Turn the tables, and he'd be describing them as heroic grassroots activists, but never mind that. In their zeal to pass ever greater restrictions on abortion, Dewhurst and his colleagues have unleashed something it seems that they cannot control.

Part of that is Davis who, already widely considered to be the Democrats' best shot at the Governor's mansion, readily took the national stage the GOP built for her yesterday. Hundreds of thousands of people, maybe more, watched Davis' filibuster live footage online. #standwithwendy was trending on Twitter for most of the day. British comedian Ricky Gervais, who doesn't typically weigh in on Texas politics, decided she deserves a place in the "pantheon of American heroes."

And then there was this:

More than that, last night marks a political watershed, the type of thing that can jump start the process of turning a solidly red state purple, if not blue. Whether Texas Dems can take advantage remains to be seen, but the GOP certainly gave them a lot of ammo.

"[I feel] tired, but really happy," Davis told reporters after her victory was sealed in the early hours of Wednesday morning. "It does in a sense [feel historic] because of the energy of the people who were here. I'm pleased to know the spotlight is shining on Texas, on the failure of our current leadership, but a spotlight is also shining on how great we are because we are an incredible state made up of incredible, spirited people who step up and make a difference when it's necessary to do that."

She also objected to Dewhurst's characterization of her supporters as an "unruly mob"

"I think that's a disservice to the people who were here," she said, according to The Dallas Morning News. "The people who were here were justifiably upset about an attempt to infringe upon a constitutional right they hold dear, primarily one that would have an impact on women but also on the men who love them."

The fight may not yet be over. Perry could call another special session to address abortion and the two other measures -- transportation funding and juvenile justice -- that didn't get passed in Republicans' eagerness to make Davis filibuster for as long as possible. But will he want to weather the outrage, not to mention the embarrassment, and cede the national stage to Davis once again? That remains to be seen.

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149 comments
Obummer
Obummer

Yo as long as Sandra Fluke be get’in her free birf controls pills what diff’ do it make?

shoeguyster
shoeguyster

Davis stood up to the teabag bullies and now they whine, invoke dead babies and Gawd. Will we look back on yesterday's bravery as marking the point where Texas finally got tired of the authoritarian right's thugs? One can always dream.

serverything
serverything

You have never had to take a friend bleeding out from a self abortion in a college bathroom to the ER in Abilene to hear nurses revile her. Your wife has never had to have a back alley abortion. You have never been an " abortion buddy " for a friend going through her 5th abortion. Back alley abortions are an abomination.

Killing a child is an abomination. Ask the women I have referenced above. Wendy is no saint, Perry is no saint. 

Mercy Trowbridge
Mercy Trowbridge

Ummm. No. The bill is not dead because Governor Oops called another special session.

foamingatthemouth
foamingatthemouth

Can you imagine having to hear Wendy Davis, or any dem for that matter, speak for 10 hours straight? If there were any pregnant women in the room the fetuses were probably trying to kill them selves somewhere around the 30 minute mark.

foamingatthemouth
foamingatthemouth

Can you imagine having to hear Wendy Davis, or any dem for that matter, speak for 10 hours straight? If there were any pregnant women in the room the fetuses were probably trying to kill them selves somewhere around the 30 minute mark.

foamingatthemouth
foamingatthemouth

Can you imagine having to hear Wendy Davis, or any dem for that matter, speak for 10 hours straight? If there were any pregnant women in the room the fetuses were probably trying to kill them selves somewhere around the 30 minute mark.

handymaam
handymaam

I have to clarify that it wasn't just an "unruly mob" in the Senate Gallery. The entire Texas Capitol building was filled with screaming, clapping and stomping supporters to the point where they stopped letting people in, but they refused to leave, so another "unruly mob" gathered at the front door of the building. I was right in front of the Senate Gallery doors on the third floor, and at one point the stomping was so intense that I thought part of the building might collapse. It was incredible. And I would especially like to thank the Texas State Troopers that were there last night, because even though they might not have agreed with the issues, they had enough integrity to support our democratic right to be there and make our noise heard. They refused to quiet the crowd and were extremely polite, and some of them even thanked us for coming as we were leaving.

brad.mason.dallas
brad.mason.dallas

And all those who caused a ruccus since it was a ruccus cause..

darrylrs
darrylrs

The facts come down to a republican majority who claim to be for smaller government, but who keep trying to control women's bodies via a larger governmental role. I love all this talk about the rights of the unborn when many of these right wing loonies couldn't give a shit about the kid once he is born. Let the woman make the decisions regarding her body and if you believe in God, he will sort this shit out in the end anyhow.

NoUsernameNeeded
NoUsernameNeeded

It's pretty funny that the Republicans crying over the filibuster as some underhanded technique seem to have absolutely no problem with Dewhurst and Duncan throwing the rulebook out the window.

Phoebe Gillespie
Phoebe Gillespie

Your headline is misleading, the abortion restriction bill e

zewkini
zewkini

The "unruly mob" was the people trying to pass a bad, indefensible piece of legislation.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

I applaud Sen. Davis for standing up for her beliefs. (Says the Goldwater/Reagan Republican who thinks that Li'l Ricky has done more damage to the Republican Party since Dick Cheney, Tom DeLay and Joe Barton, combined.)

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

More than that, last night marks a political watershed, the type of thing that can jump start the process of turning a solidly red state purple, if not blue. Whether Texas Dems can take advantage remains to be seen, but the GOP certainly gave them a lot of ammo.

I think you are dead wrong.  This wasn't grassroots -- grassroots don't show up all wearing the same mass-produced tshirt.  This was astroturf, and most people can tell that.

We have a recent example to look at when this sort of lawlessness and chicanery happens at the capitol.  Look at Wisconsin.  The 2011 budget bill there was another sort of thing that had wide support (like further restrictions on abortion-at-will) but was a hot button item for hard corps leftists and democrats.  Again, there was a ton of "protesting" at the courthouse, resulting in the "taking over" of the capitol, very similar to what we have here.

Wisconsin was already a much, much more purple state than Texas to start with.  But what happened?  Wisconsin took a hard turn red, and I'm not talking about just the reps, I'm talking about the voting.  Democrats tried to parlay it into the supreme court election there (with the supreme court having ultimately put an end to the chicanery) and failed.  Instead, the republicans kept the same control over the court.  Then they spent around $45 million dollars on recall elections for Republicans.  Again, that was a failure, with the Republicans easily keeping control of the lege.  The People revolted against the tactics used.

That's the long and the short of it.  If you want to get the People behind you, you have to be the adults in the room.  If you do it like an adult, you can do that with a fillibuster, even if the fillibuster eventually fails (like the recent Rand Paul one.)  But when you end it like this, with childish bullshit "I can't hear you" tactics, reasonable people sour on you. 

onetonload
onetonload

I love it, all the Righties are pissed and crying.....like LIBERALS!   LOL

icowrich
icowrich

@Mercy Trowbridge That was inevitable.  The purpose of the filibuster wasn't to kill the bill.  That's not possible.  The purpose was to force Republicans to go on the record supporting it and to raise awareness of what the GOP had hoped to do quietly.

animas
animas

Well to this corrupt "end justifies the means" legislative majority--lies and deceit are OK-- "if just one life is saved" (the last argument of con artists and scoundrels)

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

@NoUsernameNeeded No one is crying about the fillibuster.  They are crying about the fascist thugs who shouted the vote down from the gallery.

animas
animas

Former Democrat Perry is the Democrat Trojan Horse.  It is perverse that he feels entitled to legislate women's health issues without appropriate professional credentials  Shots and pills for teenage girls,  invasive ultrasounds for young women, and restriction of services for pregnant women,  I am also starting to think that the rest of the folks on your roster are almost as perverse.

James_the_P3
James_the_P3

@ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul I'm a Republican, as well, but I also appreciate Sen. Davis' stand on this issue.  That's the purpose of the filibuster, and she managed to carry it off.  Good for her.

icowrich
icowrich

@everlastingphelps It was Dewhurst that used an "I can't hear you" tactic, when he pretended not to hear the motion for adjournment prior to previous question.  That's what sparked the cherribuster in the first place.  The male senators were shouting over the one legitimate motion to stop her from being recognized.  The crowd saw that and emulated the senators' own tactic.  Poetic justice.

handymaam
handymaam

@everlastingphelps It was grassroots. I was there. Hardly anyone was wearing the shirt that was printed for the event only days before it happened (there are a lot of screenprinting shops in Austin that will do a last minute job for a cause they believe in). People were wearing whatever orange was in their closet; me, more of a coral color because that's all I had. I didn't even know about it until the day before and that was through some friends' facebook posts. Somehow word literally spread in a day through social media and Austinites had the wherewithal to realize that this was really important and it was crucial that they show up to the Capitol with almost no notice at all. Not only were there straight women there (the ones most affected by this legislation), but the building was also PACKED with men (gay and straight), lesbians, and children. People who realize that this is not only a women's issue, but a human rights issue that affects everyone.

miss-ashly
miss-ashly

 @everlastingphelps NARAL was able to obtain orange shirts to have screen printed last week with "My family values women". Beyond that, notices went out via social media to wear burnt orange. I know this is going to come as a stretch, but our capital also shares the city with a very well-known burnt orange-wearing college. It may have been a while since you were last in Austin, but it's quite easy to pick-up an orange shirt.. at a gas station.  This was very much a grass roots effort, led by the very savvy and organized young people of Texas, who, in this case, actually represent the majority of Texans (over 60%) and speak for the 1 in 3 women who will have an abortion during their lifetime, but are shamed by people like you from being able to speak for themselves. 

casiepierce
casiepierce

@everlastingphelps Quit trolling and look at the footage. Orange is as common in Texas as maroon. It just so happens that both the capitol building and UT are in Austin. So of course, you're gonna see orange T-shirts. They were all different. Most Texans own an orange T-shirt. This was not "organized" by any one group or another.

CornyDoggy
CornyDoggy

@everlastingphelps 

So the way that the Repubs ended her filibuster wasn't childish?  Saying she got off topic for talking about past abortion legislation?

CornyDoggy
CornyDoggy

@everlastingphelps You're saying because they had the same colored shirts, they weren't grassroots?  And you expect me to take the rest of your statement seriously?  

A group of college kids commonly wear the same shirt for things like ultimate frisbee.  I don't think that's a benchmark for grassroots/astroturf threshold

And what about the Tea Party?  Do you think it was formed through grassroots?

TrulyHough
TrulyHough

@icowrich How horrible that a doc performing an abortion should have to have hospital admitting privileges....how does that protect a woman?  (yes, that was sarcastic)

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

@CornyDoggy @everlastingphelps A fillibuster is a golem of the rules.  It's gamesmanship.  That's not a condemnation, it's just the fact.

When you are manipulating the rules, you better make sure you do it right.  She didn't, and she got called on it.

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

@CornyDoggy When a bunch of college kids show up in matching tshirts to play ultimate frisbee, it's a league, not a pick-up game.  Same thing.

The Tea Party isn't even a single unit.  There are multiple groups.  They don't all dress the same.

CogitoErgoSum
CogitoErgoSum topcommenter

@TrulyHough @icowrich Please show me data indicating that there is an existing problem to be solved by these measures, and I will consider this a valid attempt at increasing medical safety standards at clinics, rather than a veiled attempt to deny women access to abortions.

icowrich
icowrich

@everlastingphelps @CornyDoggy The rules clearly stated that it was 3 violations regarding germaneness that triggered a vote, not 3 general violations.  When you are manipulating the rules, you better make sure you do it right.  Dewhurst didn't, and he got called on it.

When he tried to pretend the vote happened prior to midnight, he got called on THAT, too.  Gamesmanship is one thing.  Cheating is another.

smithy
smithy

@everlastingphelps @CornyDoggy 

The shirts weren't the same shirt.  They were orange (various shades), because that's the most available color t-shirt in Austin.  So when someone says on facebook, "show up!  wear orange!" and you do, that's pretty darn grassroots.

CornyDoggy
CornyDoggy

@everlastingphelps

And Wisconsin took a "hard turn red"? Obama won the state, and Baldwin won the Senate race in 2012.  And don't forget how redistricting came into play

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