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Wendy Davis Filibusters Anti-Abortion Bill for 10 Hours Straight, Defeats It, Becomes Our Hero

million dollar lady

The Texan senate made headline news yesterday when Senator Wendy Davis, a Fort Worth Democrat, filibustered an anti-abortion bill for ten hours without pause, sitting, or leaning on her desk.

The bill, which would serve to ban abortions 20 weeks after pregnancy and be some of the harshest abortion restrictions in the country, had been a priority of Governor Rick Perry‘s. With Davis’ incredible filibustering and the support of pro-choice protesters, the vote was pushed into the late hours of the night, which became the early hours of the morning, and eventually blurred the line between whether or not voting took place before or after midnight– a distinction which would define the success or failure of the legislation.

At first, the GOP claimed that they had passed the bill after much confusion and strife. The results were not so clear, however.

From the New York Times:

“With all the ruckus and noise going on,” [Republican Lt. Gov. David] Dewhurst said, he could not complete administrative duties to make the vote official and sign the bill. Senate Democrats and women’s right’s advocates said the real reason the vote could not be made official was a time stamp on official documents that showed the bill passed after midnight. The Legislature’s official Web site first posted that the Senate’s vote occurred on Wednesday, after the midnight deadline, but the date was later changed to Tuesday for unknown reasons.

The reversal served as an embarrassing episode for Mr. Dewhurst and Republican senators on a divisive bill that was closely watched around the nation by anti-abortion activists and supporters of abortion rights.

Thanks to the protestors, pro-choice supporters, and Senator Davis, the bill was stopped.

This is also not her first time around the block when it comes to fighting legislation with filibusters.

Again, from the New York Times:

Ms. Davis is something of a filibuster star among Texas Democrats. At the end of the legislative term in 2011, she forced Mr. Perry to call a special session after her filibuster ran the clock out on a budget bill that included cuts in public education. But at 10 p.m. on Tuesday, 11 hours after she first stood up, Mr. Dewhurst sustained a violation against her for straying off the topic. It was her third violation. As the senators debated the next steps, Ms. Davis remained standing, because it was uncertain whether the filibuster had officially ended.

Democrats accused Mr. Dewhurst of going back on his earlier statements that he would bring the end of the filibuster to a vote if Ms. Davis had three violations. As the clock neared midnight and the crowd erupted, several Democratic senators said they believed they were voting on a procedural matter when the vote for the abortion bill was taken. “I don’t mind losing fair and square, but this has been a total sham and mockery of the rules,” said State Senator Leticia Van de Putte, a San Antonio Democrat.

Senator Davis herself is a woman with an amazing story. She was raised by a single mother, became one herself when she had a child at 19 years old, but went on to go to college and graduate with honors from Harvard Law.

That is one badass lady.

Between Davis’ legendary filibuster, yesterday’s SCOTUS ruling (striking down a key part of the Voting Rights Act), today’s SCOTUS rulings (DOMA and California’s Prop 8 both overturned), it is shaping up to be one busy week in politics. On the one hand, a huge blow to voter’s rights by removing scrutiny on voting policies from states with a history of racial discrimination. On the other hand, victories big and small for abortion rights and marriage equality.

We can celebrate Senator Davis’ incredible victory, but there is still a long way to go on the path of progress.

(via New York Times and the Texan Senate, photo from Eric Gay of the Associated Press)

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