Raising hell is what Texan women were born to do. This week we will profile Senator Wendy Davis, a woman who walked the path first blazed by bad-ass Governor Ann Richards (see History of Sex post #151).
Wendy Davis’ name became renowned on June 25th 2013 when she filibustered State Legislature for 11 hours straight in opposition of a bill which would restrict abortion rights in her home state of Texas. Her goal, much like another blonde heroine of popular culture was to “kill (Senate) Bill (5)”.
She awoke that morning with the goal of talking non-stop for 13 hours, from 11:11am to just past midnight. “Sounds like something you could easily do,” said my boyfriend, but I digress…
The Texas State filibuster rules are absurdly strict:
“You may not touch your desk. You may not lean on your desk. You may not have a sip of water. You may not leave the floor for any reason, to eat or to go to the bathroom. You may not even have a stick of gum. On top of that, there’s the three-strike rule: if a senator is called for three points of order for not staying on topic, the filibuster can be ended”
Wendy was well prepared by wearing a catheter with her pink running shoes. Even the pair of Mizuno’s themselves have become iconic in their own right, symbolizing the perseverance, and creating a buzz on in the comment section of Amazon online. Nevertheless, after the 11th hour, it was over. For Davis this issue didn’t only affect thousands of women in Texas, it directly affected herself and her family, a family she’d started when she had her first child with her first husband at only 19. Less than two years later, after divorcing her daughter’s father, she met her second husband, City Councilman Jeff Davis. They stayed together for 20 years, having another daughter together. Throughout these years they shared many personal victories but also the difficult decision to abort two fetuses due to health complications. The first termination was in the first trimester due to an ectopic tubal pregnancy where the fetus implants itself outside the uterus and the second was diagnosed with Dandy-Walker syndrome which would have left her child deaf, blind and in a permanent vegetative state. Her deeply personal stories, along with those emailed in to her while she was on the floor were what made up the material for Wendy’s 11 hour filibuster. At 430am she emailed Cecile Richards (yes, our very own Governor Ann Richard’s daughter!) the President of Planned Parenthood, to tell her they had succeeded, but the very next morning Governor Rick (“I-can’t-remember-my-third-point”) Perry passed Senate Bill 5, leaving many mothers and their unborn children at risk.
Stories like this are all too common in politics these days, but we’re lucky that people like Senator Wendy Davis have the cajones to speak up because it’s voices like hers that make history happen.
Now try not to cry as you watch this video: