Thursday, July 04, 2013

Left Side of the Aisle #115 - Part 4

Hero Award: Texas state Rep. Wendy Davis

On Tuesday evening, June 25, Wendy Davis, a Texas state senator from Fort Worth, strode onto the floor of the Texas Senate and started talking. And talking. And talking. She talked for more than 11 hours without a break.

Texas GOPpers were trying to use a special session of the legislature to push through legislation that would dramatically limit access to abortion in the state, cutting the number of clinics from 42 to 5 and banning abortions after 20 weeks in direct violation of Roe v. Wade. So Wendy Davis said she was going to filibuster the bill and run out the clock on the legislative session, which ended at midnight on Wednesday morning.

So she got up and she talked. The filibuster rules in Texas are strict. She couldn't be off-topic. And she talked. She couldn't take a bathroom break. And she talked. She couldn't eat or drink. And she talked. She couldn't even lean on anything, not even her own desk. And she talked.

Finally, shortly before the midnight deadline, the GOPpers in the state Senate came up with the three points of order necessary to force her to yield the floor. But supporters used up another hour in their own parliamentary maneuvers, arguing against the GOPpers points of order. Finally, with about 15 minutes to spare, it looked like the reactionaries would get their way.

And that's when it happened: The hundreds of supporters who had gathered in the galleries erupted in shouts and chants of "Shame! Shame!" The were so loud, so insistent, that when Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst shouted into the microphone, trying to call the final votes, nobody seemed to hear him. State police grabbed, shoved, and pulled people out of the galleries.

By the time order was restored and the right-wingers had passed the bill by a vote of 19-10, the official time stamp read 12:03 AM: too late. The bill had been killed by Wendy Davis, some parliamentary work, and what immediately became known as "a people's filibuster."

Sadly, it won't stay dead long: Gov. Rick "Oops" Perry has already said he is going to call another special session to ram through his twisted notion of "protecting life." But at least now the reactionaries know it won't happen without a fight. And as the symbol of that fight, Wendy Davis is a hero.


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