Anya Wassenberg
June 27, 2013

Texas Has a New Hero in Wendy Davis

Texas is a place of wild contrasts in political content and style — the range is home to a full range of the political spectrum.

At one end, there are those like State Rep. Jodie Laubenberg who infamously joined in promoting Texas state Bill SB5 — a bill that would have left only five abortion clinics open for a population of 26 million — while apparently under the impression that rape kits could be used for quickie ER abortions.

On the other is the loquacious representative for District 10 in the Texas Senate, Wendy Davis, whose 12-hour filibuster on June 25 ran out the clock on the special session of the state legislature that would have voted in America’s most restrictive abortion law.

Davis, the 50-year-old Democrat who became a mother at 19 and a Harvard-educated lawyer at 33, has quickly become a social media darling. Even President Obama was a Twitter fan. #StandWithWendy trended all over the world.

An instant icon in her pale suit and pink runners, Davis stood for more than 12 hours as per legislature rules. She was not allowed to eat or take bathroom breaks or even lean against anything – or stop talking except to listen to questions. The legislature gallery was full of noisy supporters.

The bill, which proposed banning abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, was opposed by the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the Texas Medical Association and the Texas Hospital Association, among others.

Abortion is a complicated issue medically and psychologically. It’s something nobody wants. But it has to be a woman’s own decision, not something that’s vulnerable to the changing winds of political agendas. The fact that Bill SB5 got to the final stages of becoming a law despite the opposition of the state’s own physicians is pretty jaw-dropping in itself.

Alongside its implication for women, Wendy Davis’ stand in the legislature was a victory for the democratic system and proof that one person really can make a difference … for now. Or, maybe the final lesson is: it’s easier for some individuals to make a difference than others. Because Davis’ victory is likely to prove short-lived.

The day after her epic filibuster, Republican Governor Rick Perry had already called for another special session to vote on the law on July 1 — and he can keep calling new special sessions for as long as he wants.

What’s particularly scary is that other states are waiting to enact similar legislation, all aimed at striking down Roe vs. Wade, the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision that set the groundwork for current abortion access.

The fight goes on and on and on.

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