This post was written by Ariana Adams-Gregg.
You were right, President Obama. Something very special happened in Texas last night.
I started watching the Texas Senate live stream around 9:00 last night and was unable to look away until 2:30 this morning. Wendy Davis, a democratic senator from Texas’ District 10 decided to filibuster Senate Bill 5 (SB 5), a bill that many said proposed some of the harshest abortion restrictions in the country. In order to complete the filibuster and strike down the bill, she would have to stand for almost 13 hours, unable to drink, eat, lean on her desk, or go to the bathroom.
SB 5 intended to ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, require abortion clinics to upgrade their facilities to meet surgical standards in hospitals, and mandate that doctors who perform abortions must be within 30 miles of a hospital — essentially chipping away at women’s ability to access abortion services by closing 80% of abortion clinics in Texas.
The filibuster “ended” in the 11th hour when Senator Donna Campbell (R) called a third point of order against Davis. With three violations of the filibuster rules — one being that Senator Ellis (D) helped Davis put on a back brace — the bill went back out on the floor, intended for a vote. A thoughtful closing statement from Senator Watson (D) and parliamentary inquiries from three democratic Senators delayed the vote even further.
As the acting Chair attempted to move the vote along, Senator Van de Putte (D) asked a poignant question — one that caused the crowd to erupt into cheers: “At what point must a female senator raise her hand or voice to be recognized over her male colleagues in the room?” People continued to cheer, clap, and scream for more than 15 minutes, helping to delay the vote past midnight.
At the end of the night it was unclear whether the bill passed or not. Republicans claimed that the vote started before midnight, while democrats, reporters, advocates, and other witnesses stated that voting didn’t happen until a few minutes after. It wasn’t until 3:00 a.m. that the official decision came: SB 5 didn’t pass. The people’s voices were heard.
As individuals, public health professionals, and a women-owned business, CommunicateHealth would like to congratulate Wendy Davis on standing for access to safe, legal abortions. We congratulate her on standing for the women of Texas — and the women of the United States. We congratulate her on standing for a country where the priorities of women are every bit as valuable as the priorities of men
We stand with Wendy.
(And thanks to our friends at Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas for the picture!)