Posted by: Donna
In case you’re not a passionately pro-choice dork like I am who watched the whole livestream, pro-choice activists descended upon the Texas Capitol on Tuesday to support heroic Senator Wendy Davis, who filibustered old school style (standing the whole time, no bathroom or water breaks, and having to speak the entire time) against an anti-choice bill that would have shuttered all but 5 abortion clinics statewide. Republicans shut down Davis’ filibuster 12 hours into it and not long before midnight (when the session would end) under the dubious claim by a GOP Senator that Davis had strayed off the topic of the bill (you can’t just read the phonebook in TX filibuster, you must stay on topic, but Davis was staying on point as far as I and many observers were concerned). Her Democratic colleagues attempted to run the clock out by bringing up objections and points of order, but the GOP majority was poised to vote for the bill just before the stroke of midnight.
And then this amazing thing happened where the gallery erupted in shouting, causing the Republican chair to pound his gavel furiously. They did vote to pass SB5, but it was after midnight, hence after the session so the vote should have been invalid. They tried to hide that fact by changing the time of the vote on the website. What they didn’t count on were the thousands of us nationwide following the filibuster on Twitter (#StandWithWendy and similar hashtags trended globally) and watching the live feed. They failed, as of about 2 am on Wednesday morning, when the Lt. Governor of Texas declared that the vote took place after midnight. Governor Perry announced today it will come back in a special session, despite the majority of Texans being opposed to more abortion regulation.
Despite that, it’s still a victory for our side and I’m very glad the hundreds of people gathered at the Capitol in Austin ignored the constant admonishments we get to be calm and civil and not so angry about asserting our reproductive rights or other liberal values. Certainly there has been some of that scolding in the aftermath, with one GOP Senator sniffling that the chanting activists were an unruly mob. But that “mob” behavior succeeded in a way that politely trying to explain to anti-choicers why they are wrong never will. The mistake people who think any disagreement can be solved through civil dialog make is assuming it’s never been tried before. Believe us pro-choicers when we say we’ve been over that ground many, many times and all it has caused is for the anti-choice movement to dig in deeper and come up with better lies and myths*. I’m not saying anger and forceful rhetoric should be the first resort in every political fight. Absolutely not. But when you’ve exhausted every other effort and tactic and the other side is only getting emboldened and scarier, then it’s time to Stand With Wendy and do some shouting!
*Speaking of which, it chagrins me how news people have been willing to take anti-choicers at their word for years, despite these being many of the very same people who think the President was born in Kenya, think the UN is trying to take over the country, and subscribe to a host of other bizarre, unsubstantiated beliefs. It wasn’t until Akin’s and other Republicans’ strange rape outbursts in 2012 that reporters stopped trying to appear so even-handed with anti-choicers, but they still give them far more credibility than they deserve. It was disappointing, for example, to see AP and other news outlets running with the Republican claim that the vote was before midnight, therefore legal, until it became too obvious, thanks to crowd-sourcing, that it wasn’t true.
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