Texas “women power” blocks anti-abortion bill

AUSTIN, Texas (Texas Media Collective) – A severe anti-abortion bill in the Texas Legislature went down to defeat June 25 thanks in part to a 10-hour filibuster by state Senator Wendy Davis of Fort Worth.

Viewers across the country witnessed Davis’s gritty performance on live streaming video. It came at the end of a special session called by Republican Gov. Rick Perry.

Despite polls in the state showing that most Texans are pro-choice, Democrats in the state Senate didn’t have the votes to stop the bill, SB 5, which would have effectively closed most clinics providing abortions in the state – adding yet another burden to the working poor. The only tactic left to opponents of the bill was the filibuster.

The victory, however, is short-lived. Perry has called for another special legislative session to reconsider the proposal on July 1.

While an inspiring figure in this struggle, Davis didn’t stand alone. Among her fellow state senators, Leticia Van de Putte, a San Antonio Democrat, could have been forgiven for not taking part. Earlier that day, she had attended her father’s funeral. But Van de Putte chose to be there and speak out.

Using tactics even a fellow Republican called “sketchy,” Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst concocted three violations supposedly involved in Davis’s filibuster, and tried to use those supposed violations to end her filibuster. Her supporters on the floor raised various parliamentary points, trying to extend their defense of Texas women to past the midnight voting deadline.

Twenty minutes before midnight, Van de Putte, who had been struggling to have her voice heard, finally said, “At what point must a female senator raise her hand or her voice to be recognized over her male colleagues in the room?”

In an electric moment, onlookers in the gallery rose. They burst into claps, then cheers, and finally a nonstop roar.

Rattled by hearing what actual Texans thought of their shenanigans, Republican state senators clustered near the podium and tried to cram the vote through.

McAllen state Senator Chuy Hinojosa, a Democrat, caught the Republicans trying to change the post-midnight time-stamped recorded vote from June 26 to June 25. Unable to slide the faked record past alert Democrats, Republicans finally ran out of tricks. At 3 a.m., Dewhurst admitted from the podium that the vote had been too late.

People’s World spoke to several of the hundreds of supporters who had been present in the gallery and lined up in the halls outside during the filibuster.  They described the mood as upbeat, peaceful and united.  The protest continued even after those in the gallery were sent by state troopers outside the chambers.  

“It was nerve-wracking and intense not knowing what was going on with the bill,” said young activist Amber Hoffman.

“Even after clapping, yelling, stomping, and chanting for two hours, the crowds were going strong. We were not going to back down. I think we definitely let them know how we felt and what we wanted.”

Lt. Gov. Dewhurst later described the protestors as “an unruly mob, using Occupy Wall Street tactics.” Viewers seeing the live stream saw something quite different: law-abiding citizens, rising in nonviolent opposition.  

In response to Dewhurst’s claim, Hoffman said, “They gave us a lot of credit for the scene we made, which was very impromptu, and I think was very successful.”

Said one activist, who asked not to be identified, “The old white men are circling the wagons. They are so scared of women and what the majority of Texans want. They are losing their hold on power and they know it.”

With the defacto abortion ban likely to be approved in the next special session, Texans are also faced with another restriction pushed by conservatives on the state level as well as those on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Supreme Court justices in recent days threw out part of the Voting Rights Act, which has the effect of activating Texas’s controversial voter ID law.  

The Texas Department of Public Safety has announced that photo identification will now be required when voting in elections in Texas. Certain IDs will be acceptable as proof, including a concealed gun permit, but not, for instance, a college student ID.

This places a further financial burden on people, particularly those who will have to purchase copies of their birth certificates and other documentation.

On June 27, Rep. Marc Veasey, a Democrat, sued the state of Texas to prevent the voter identification requirements from taking effect.   

Video: Texas legislature gallery roars support for Wendy Davis’s filibuster:

Correction: State Sen. Wendy Davis is a Democrat. Due to an editing error, an earlier version of this article erroneously identified her as a Republican.

Photo: Texans display support for Wendy Davis during her filibuster, June 25, Austin, Texas. fejsez CC 2.0




Kelly Sinclair
Kelly Sinclair

A native of the Texas Panhandle, Kelly Sinclair is a singer-songwriter who branched out into prose with the publication of her first novel, "Accidental Rebels." Five of her books (Accidental Rebels, Lesser Prophets, If the Wind Were a Woman, In the Now, Roberta's Fire) appeared with Blue Feather Books before that publisher's demise. In 2015, she returns to print/ebook with her new crime noir novel, "Getting Back," with Regal Crest Books. Also, her Lambda Literary Awards finalist effort, "In the Now," will return to print with science-fiction publisher Lethe Press. In addition to her writing for People's World, she's also an audio reviewer for Library Journal. As a singer-songwriter, she's written for herself (Alive in Soulville) as well as others. Her rock musical, "Clarity," is available for free via Soundcloud. She's also a computer artist. She currently lives in central Texas. She can be found at asebomedia.net as well as via email.