Meet the Woman Behind the Texas Abortion Filibuster

The story of state senator Wendy Davis' breakout performance on the national stage

  • Share
  • Read Later
Bob Daemmrich / Corbis

State senator Wendy Davis, in Austin on June 26, 2013, begins a filibuster of a bill that would tighten regulations on Texas' abortion providers

With just a few hours left before the end of its legislative session Tuesday, the Texas senate was poised to pass one of the most sweeping abortion-restriction bills in the country, banning the procedure after 20 weeks of pregnancy and potentially forcing the closure of a majority of the state’s abortion clinics. Then a determined woman in pink sneakers brought it all to a halt.

State senator Wendy Davis, a rising Democratic star in Lone Star politics, filibustered the bill into the night and, for the time being, prevented its passage. The legislation is still likely to become law if Republican Governor Rick Perry calls a special session, but through her protest, Davis became a hero for abortion-rights supporters nationwide, drawing 400,000 mentions on Twitter under the hashtag #standwithwendy, according to the social-media company.
Unfazed by the Texas legislature’s strict rules that required her to speak continuously on topic and not sit down, Davis filibustered for about 10 hours. She has a long history of perseverance.

Davis, now 50, started working at 14, and by the age of 19, she was divorced and raising a child. She enrolled in community college and eventually transferred to Texas Christian University. After graduating first in her class, she left the state to attend Harvard Law School. With a law degree in hand, Davis became a practicing attorney in Fort Worth and joined the Fort Worth city council, serving for nine years.

(MORE: In Texas Filibuster, YouTube Stands Up While “24/7″ News Falls)

In her 2008 state-senate race, Davis upset a two-term incumbent. Once in office, she made a name for herself as a Democratic firebrand in a deeply Republican state. In 2011 she filibustered a budget bill that cut education funding, forcing Perry to hold a special session. She also authored legislation to expedite rape investigations and has been an outspoken advocate of gay rights.

Scrutiny accompanied Davis’ rise in Texas politics. During her 2012 campaign, opponents accused her of using her position in the Senate to lock down contracts for her law firm, Newby Davis. And her office was the target of an attack last year when a 40-year-old homeless man threw a Molotov cocktail at the front door. (No one was injured.)

But Tuesday’s filibuster has brought Davis to a whole new level. “The proof is in the pudding, and the pudding tastes pretty good right now,” she told reporters afterward, adding that she’s “pleased to know the spotlight is shining on Texas.”

The spotlight is on Davis too. National attention has led to speculation that she might run for a statewide office like governor, should Perry not seek re-election. It would be a daunting task, according to Texas political observers. But Wendy Davis is no stranger to uphill battles.

38 comments
originaljen27
originaljen27

Thanks determined Wendy Davis in pink sneakers, now I can kill babies, what a hero you are.

Irresponsible adults (1) Innocent babies (0)  

"what worth is it to gain the whole world if you lose your soul?"

RightRider
RightRider

My what a wonderful american heroine. She basically fought courageously to make sure those babies -the ones that science has established as being able to feel pain at 20 weeks- are denied the right to life, as well as the human decency of being spared death by painful torture.

History should remember her as a courageous pioneer for life, along with hitler, mengele, and kevorkian. 

GOPTroubleMaker
GOPTroubleMaker

Guess Wendy is ok with abortions that occur the day before a baby is full term....cause you know, it's a woman's right to choose.

iChen
iChen

She's just positioning for a run for the Governor's seat. That and approving Dr. Kermit Gosnell.

austinproud
austinproud

The bill was to stop abortions after 20 weeks.  That is 5 months, plenty of time for a women to decide on terminating a pregnancy.

GildaTaylor
GildaTaylor

Congratulations Wendy! You are a true leader and I wished I lived in Texas so that I could VOTE for you. I am so tired of men and misguided women trying to control a woman's body. Do they think that we are stupid and can not think for ourselves? Thank you for your tireless efforts. You make me proud to be a woman. The only person that will have a say about whether abortion is right or wrong is our higher power in faith! I think all of this is because the population is 50% minority and the majority is worried. If they continue to try and control women, they should be worried.

RightRider
RightRider

Apparently you're ok with murdering babies and torturing them in the process. So when exactly did Women start getting pregnant on their own? Im assuming you believe that, since you basically state a woman's pregnancy is only the business of she and her doctor and not the man who contributed the sperm to conceive her.

JessicaMask
JessicaMask

I agree. Any woman with half a brain cell knows if she is raped or if she has sex, even with protection, that there is STILL a chance she may become pregnant.

TStewPrincess14
TStewPrincess14

@austinproud a woman* or for women.  If you're going to treat us like we are ignorant, at least attempt to look smarter than us.

bobcn
bobcn

@austinproud

"The bill was to stop abortions after 20 weeks. "

Nope.  You need to familiarize yourself with the bill.  It does a whole lot more than that.  The bill contains a poison pill that requires abortion clinics to meet the same standards that hospital-style surgical centers do, and mandates that a doctor who performs abortions have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital.  These requirements are medically unnecessary and were designed to force the closing of nearly all of the abortion clinics in Texas.

To claim that it was just about a 20 week limit is false.

"...plenty of time for a women to decide on terminating a pregnancy."

Nope.  Not after the clinics disappear.

rpearlston
rpearlston

@austinproud Does that include women who don't realize, until about 19 weeks, that they are pregnant?  Some women continue to have what look to be periods during a pregnancy.  Some women ahve cycles so irregular that they may not know that they are pregnant until they begin to experience other symptoms of pregnancy.  Remember, that "morning sickness" is not universal and that every pregnancy is different from every other pregnancy,, including the individual pregnancies of any one woman.

Just because you say that 20 weeks is enough time for a woman to make a decision doesn't mean that that's the case.  Take off your blinders, please, and see the world as it is, not as you want it to be.

RubinSafaya
RubinSafaya

@austinproud So you're saying that politicians are more qualified than medical professionals to make medical decisions?  Do you go to a politician to ask their advice if your kidneys were failing?

DarleneRitterGoodfellow
DarleneRitterGoodfellow

@austinproud Not if there is a catastrophic medical failing with the fetus, which is overwhelmingly the reason for late term abortions, usually with pregnancies that were wanted but are not viable. Why do you believe old, male politicians, who have proven to be wildly ignorant about medical issues, in particular the way women's bodies work, qualified to make these kind of decisions? Obviously, Rs believe in government small enough to fit in a woman's vagina. Nevermind the fact that for Rs, babies cease to matter once they pop out of the womb.

originaljen27
originaljen27

@DREGstudios  The "old white men" argument is tiring. I'm a woman and Im pro life, I guess that makes me an "old white man"...really tired of  stereotypes.

originaljen27
originaljen27

@GildaTaylor I'm a misguided woman because I believe its NOT okay to murder an innocent child. Proud to be "misguided"

originaljen27
originaljen27

@GildaTaylor Im sorry, I thought it was the pro-abortioners who were trying to control the population by killing babies?

TStewPrincess14
TStewPrincess14

@RightRider Your first problem is making an assumption.  Never heard it makes an ass of you? Your second problem is not being educated.  Murder?  Really?  Torturing them?  Come on now.  Get your hands on a book and educate yourself before you try and tell women what we can and can't do with our bodies.  Would you like the government involved every time you masturbate?  Get your prostate checked out?  How about every time you get laid?  Make sure and call the Governor for permission first.  Now to clarify your attempt at an insult, I am ok with what the Supreme Court gives the woman a right to do.  It's our CHOICE.  If you want to keep your baby, keep it, but no one gets to tell us what we can and cannot do.  

RightRider
RightRider

Ill bet you cant walk past the mens restroom without giving it a dirty look

GOPTroubleMaker
GOPTroubleMaker

@RubinSafaya @austinproud I think the three medical professionals who actually went to medical school are more knowledgeable about the issue than lawyer Wendy Davis who went to....gasp....law school!

originaljen27
originaljen27

@DarleneRitterGoodfellow @austinproud Medical impairments are typically not detected until a babies gestation is at least 24 weeks ,  it still DOES NOT make it okay to kill a baby because they may not be normal. Give the kid a chance. Ive had friends who were told their child would have downsyndrom and offered an abortion which they refused, their child DID NOT have down syndrome and is now 8 years old!  What if you didn't see an abnormality until the baby was born, is it okay then to murder or abort this childs life? I see no difference morally between killing a 24 week old baby and a newborn...only with an abortion somehow people try to convince themselves its okay because they can't see whats going on inside them...there is a human life in there! Also, Many of the 1.3 % of abortions that take place after 20 weeks gestation are not due to medical abnormalities, BUT to women being in denial of their pregnancy until this gestational age and women trying to save money for an abortion. This "medical procedure" which is not a medical procedure at all, it IS a DOCTOR KILLING A CHILD and should be banned! Please value life, it is so precious...NOONE should be okay with this practice.....please REALLY think about this.

GOPTroubleMaker
GOPTroubleMaker

@DarleneRitterGoodfellow @austinproud Take a look at SB5.  It provided exceptions for fetal abnormality and if the mother's health was an issue. Also interesting to note that the Texas Senate has three doctors in it, all are Rs and one is a female who is double board certfied.  The dems dont have a single physician.  Guess that kinda debunks your analysis that these laws are written by "old male politicians, who have proven to be wildly ignorant about medical issues", doesnt it Darlene?  Your ignorance is telling.

GildaTaylor
GildaTaylor

@originaljen27 @GildaTaylor You are probably the same misguided woman who does not speak-up for the millions of innocent, abandoned and unwanted children being abused and murdered every day here in the United States NOW.

GildaTaylor
GildaTaylor

@originaljen27@GildaTaylorNope, it is not the (pro-abortionist). They are not the one with control of policies, they are the ones blowing-up clinics and yelling the loudest. Check out this research from the Brookings Institute that talk about the changing population and you will see why those in power want to control women's bodies. http://www.brookings.edu/blogs/up-front/posts/2013/06/19-us-majority-minority-population-census-frey.

Once again I say that our higher power in faith is the ONLY one who will judge a woman's decision in the end. For all of you (pro-abortionist), please consider that over 200 children are murdered on a daily basis in the United States and I do not hear your outcry for these children. There are millions of abandoned and unwanted children being abused everyday in the US and I don't hear your voices for them. We also have millions of children going hungry every day and I don't hear you voices for them. Perhaps your voices are silent because they are poor and minorities. I believe that all of us will be judged for not taking care of the children who are here in the NOW. 


originaljen27
originaljen27

@TStewPrincess14 @RightRider not seeing where rightrider made an assumption, he clearly reiterated what you support...ABORTION, the murdering of innocent life by the babies mother....all legal with the support of people like you.  Its so hard having all these "judgemental" people not supporting you in your rights to murder isn't it....the world can be so tough sometimes.

originaljen27
originaljen27

@TStewPrincess14 @RightRider  actually, the saying goes "to assume makes an ass of u and me ASS-U-ME. Im a WOMAN with four kids and Im NOT okay with people killing babies....Im pro orphanage, pro foster care, pro-life.....and an American citizen. I am horrified that this is allowed and even more horrified at the arrogance you have and your illogical arguments justifying your position. The situations you presented involve one person only...masturbating, prostate checks, really? Once you involve taking another human life, I WILL have a say, its NOT only YOUR body anymore, there are two bodies now, two lives at stake and one is INNOCENT. Get that through your THICK skull.

rpearlston
rpearlston

@GOPTroubleMaker @RubinSafaya @austinproud But who is a woman who, like most educated women, understands how women's body work.  That makes her more knowledge on the subject than most men, even some MD's who are men.  Yes, that seems to include yourself.

Do the world a favor and talk to the women around you on this one.  I don't simply mean to your mother, your partner, your sister(s).  I mean talk  to the women with whom you work, to your neighbors, etc.  Open your ears and your brain when you do so.  you'll be stunned at what you hear.

DarleneRitterGoodfellow
DarleneRitterGoodfellow

@originaljen27 @DarleneRitterGoodfellow @austinproud Most late term abortions are for medical issues far more lethal and problematic  than Down Syndrome - most fall along the lines of anencephaly or conditions that will be terminal for the fetus. I had amnio my last pregnancy at 35 because my husband had an aunt that died of CF, luckily he was healthy and just graduated HS, I don't think we would have terminated the pregnancy over DS but cystic fibrosis is not a pleasant life and I'm not sure I could have subjected a baby I wanted to that kind of hell. Bottom line is this was not a decision that should be made by a politician but by me, my husband and our doctors. It's certainly none of yours either.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,104 other followers