The 10 Dumbest Moments from the Texas Legislature's Abortion Debate

Categories: Politics

The abortion debate is a Gordian knot wrapped in a koan stuck in an inescapable quagmire. It's not, in other words, a matter that can be settled through dialogue, reasoned or otherwise, as the Texas Legislature has so amply proved over the past month.

That hasn't stopped people from trying. In some cases, this has taken the form of a principled defense of firmly held beliefs. In others, the things that emerge from people's mouths and brains are, in a word, absurd.

And so, as the Texas Senate prepares to send sweeping abortion restrictions to Governor Rick Perry's desk, here in roughly chronological order are the 10 dumbest moments in the legislative debate. By no means is this a comprehensive list. Feel free to correct any omissions in the comments.

Magical Rape Kits

This probably should have been the abortion bill's Todd Akin moment that ended its chances once and for all. That its author, Representative Jodie Laubenberg, can demonstrate such a fundamental ignorance of reproductive healthcare while claiming to be defending women's health is pretty astounding. We won't even delve into that time six years ago when she made the teensy-bit hypocritical claim that fetuses aren't, in fact, people, at least for the purpose of doling out state health benefits.

Pink Mizunos


For Senator Wendy Davis, the pink Mizunos were no doubt a pragmatic choice. Hard to stand for a day-long filibuster without comfortable feet. But then the Internet got a hold of the pink kicks and showered the shoe's Amazon page with clever reviews, transformed them into Internet meme art, and generally convinced liberals to buy the crap out of them. Because democracy.

Wendy Davis' Back Brace


At some point on June 26, as the clock ticked toward midnight and Davis continued to drone on in her pink Mizunos, Republicans realized they had to do something to shut the woman up. So, with the goal of accumulating three strikes against her and forcing her off the floor, they began making up rules violations. Her reference to Planned Parenthood's budget wasn't germane to the abortion bill under discussion. Neither was the sonogram bill passed during the previous sessions requiring doctors to show women their fetus before performing an abortion. And of course they couldn't let her get help putting on a back brace after standing for several hours in one spot. Great optics for a party already seen as having trouble with women. More embarrassing still, their ploy failed miserably.

Time Stamp Change


When Senate Republicans realized that their anti-abortion push had been thwarted by the Davis filibuster and what they would later refer to as an "unruly mob," they figured that no one would notice if they changed the time stamp to make it look as if squeezed in a vote just before the midnight deadline. They hadn't, of course, as was quickly pointed out by many among the hundreds of thousands who were watching on the Internet. Eventually, this forced Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst to admit defeat.

Aborted Fetuses ≠ Dick Cheney


There are good Dick Cheney jokes and there are bad Dick Cheney jokes. State Representative Gene Wu's aborted-fetuses-are-like-Dick Cheney joke, which he quickly apologized for, was very much the latter.

Rick Perry Saying Wendy Davis Should Know Better:

Davis' rise from struggling teen mom to Harvard-trained lawyer is the type of back story any politician would love to have. It's the type of inspiring, bootstraps tale that voters can't resist. To Governor Rick Perry, however, Davis is a case study for why abortion should be outlawed since, if her mother had decided to terminate her pregnancy, we wouldn't be able to marvel at achievements. Never mind that Perry's claim that Davis was an unwed mother, or that her parents weren't married at the time of her birth, weren't technically accurate. Belittling ad hominem attacks cleverly disguised as compliments always play well.

Armed Fetuses


Those pro-choice nutcases can be scary folks, as the video of the hollering protester being dragged from the House chambers will attest. If they'll kill a fetus, certainly they'll have no compunction about going after a hefty Republican freshman from Bedford. Luckily for Jonathan Stickland, he always keeps his firearm holstered and at the ready.

But Stickland wasn't referring to his own Second Amendment rights in his Tweet. No, he was merely expressing his wish that fetuses should also enjoy the right to bear arms, thereby ending abortion once and for all. Just don't think too hard about how they'd actually fire the things.

Hail Satan!

Even when you're locked in a take-no-prisoners battle with religious zealots, it's neither funny nor advisable to interrupt their rendition of "Amazing Grace" with screamed references to the Angel of Darkness. Even Satan worshipers think that's dumb:


Preteen Girls Holding Signs


Again, outfitting a prepubescent girl with a sign that reads "If I wanted the government in my womb, I would have f***** a Senator!" probably doesn't deliver the intended message, even when you punctuate the exclamation mark with a heart.

A Texas Woman's Primal Scream

When the burnt-orange-clad crowd in the Senate gallery unleashed a deafening, 20-minute cheer to thwart Republicans after they killed Davis' filibuster in the most bullshit way imaginable, it was inspiring. When this woman attempted to disrupt proceedings by screaming at lawmakers from the balcony, it wasn't. The state troopers showed great restraint by keeping their nightsticks sheathed.

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Many of the Texas State Troopers stayed at the hotel I stayed at last Thursday and Friday. Two of the troopers told us at breakfast that many of the protesters that they hauled off told them they were paid to wear orange and start trouble..


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


What a beautiful thing we we are going to get witness. Rich white conservative republicans agreeing to  adopt the thousands  of minority children they have forced into this world.    I'm sure they are already lining up at the adoption agencies.  

Thank you so much Texas Taliban for taking the time and really thinking this one through.  You truly must know what is best for all citizens of this state. 


I was delighted to hear that Rick Perry is going to adopt 20 babies to help pick up the slack caused by his social engineering. Plus, he is going to come out in favor of AFDC, WIC, Medicaid, medical coverage for poor and sick people, unemployment insurance, public education. What do you mean he's not?

mavdog topcommenter

#1 should be the moment they passed the bill itself...totally unnecessary, a waste of time, and a distraction from other items that needed addressing thus causing the need for a 2nd special session costing $millions.


If its not 100% anti-choice its obviously 100% pro-choice.



Can you retitle this "The 10 dumbest moments from the Texas Legislature's Abortion Debate--From a Pro Choice Advocate's point of view"?


Use Femen tactics, not hogs of color.

Sarah Bae
Sarah Bae

in this case the legislation is wrong


What about all the people that think a facebook post equals actually voting in an election?  It's not like the currently elected legislators hid their views on abortion.  Where was the outcry then?

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

The far Left side of the political spectrum has used that woman's tactic for as long as I've been active in protests, which stretches back to my SDS days in the late 60's.  Nothing new here, so don't overreact and call them "scary nutcases".

Sotiredofitall topcommenter

@mavdog Yep - an example of administrative incompetence and these same incompetents are all running for Little Ricky's job 

RTGolden1 topcommenter

@Myrna.Minkoff-KatzI have not seen the video of the woman in question, but, just because something has been occurring since the 60's doesn't mean it can't be scary, crazy or even dead wrong.

Case in point: Anti-abortion protesters have been using the tactic of crowding the approaches to abortion clinics and hurling invectives, insults and threats at potential clients since the mid-80's.  Nothing new here, so don't overreact and call them 'scary religious nuts'.

A protest, in order to accomplish its goal, must be intimidating on some level.  Otherwise it's just so much noise.  Crazy and scary are generally intimidating character traits.


@monstruss @DirtyP1 Me too, monstruss.  I land on the pro-choice side and I thought Eric captured the stupidity on both sides very well.

everlastingphelps topcommenter

@ruddski Actually, taking one too many cops' blackjacks to the head while palling around with terrorists explains EVERYTHING about Myrna.

RTGolden1 topcommenter

@kduble @RTGolden1 @Myrna.Minkoff-Katz Right, myself as well.  However, that doesn't mean the others aren't out there.  Already forgotten that several abortion providing doctors have been murdered?

The point wasn't to put the Pro-Life group in a negative light. It was to point out the hypocrisy of thinking that behavior one would deem crazy and scary in one group (Myrna's thinking on conservative ideals) while excusing the same behavior when one's own cohorts engage it.

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