Texas State Sen. Wendy Davis became a household name Tuesday night when, standing in a pair of iconic pink sneakers, the Fort Worth Democrat spent 11 hours filibustering to prevent the passage of a sweeping anti-abortion bill supported by prominent Republicans.
Davis, 50, a teenage mother who graduated from Harvard Law School and went on to win a seat in the Texas Senate, couldn't use the restroom, eat, drink, sit or lean during the filibuster, according to Texas rules.
But she could talk.
Davis received at least 13,000 story submissions from women who hoped she would read them on the Senate floor.
Senate Bill 5 would prevent abortions at 20 weeks or more, set restrictions on use of an abortion pill and require all abortion clinics to get ambulatory surgical center licenses, which would shut down 37 of the state's 42 remaining clinics, at least temporarily. Although abortions past 20 weeks to protect the life of the mother are allowed, the law makes no such exception for women who have psychological conditions or who become pregnant through rape or incest.
Davis' opponents halted her filibuster at 10:07 p.m., with almost two hours left to go before the special session ended at midnight. But protestors in the gallery shouted and cheered, disrupting the vote, which came in at 12:02 -- too late to count.
Together, they defeated the bill, but Texas Gov. Rick Perry said Wednesday he would call a second special session to pass it.
Here are a few highlights from Davis' marathon speech:
|From Texas Doctors|
Davis began the filibuster with testimony from the Texas district of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists . Its chairwoman, Dr. Lisa Hollier, wrote to Davis that ACOG opposes the bill because it threatens the doctor-patient relationship, requires standards that aren't based in medical evidence and makes treatment for certain medical conditions "more difficult and expensive.
"[The bill] places an unacceptable level of control over the doctor-patient relationship in the hands of the legislature, essentially allowing the legislature to practice medicine," she wrote.
Hollier wrote that women will have to travel long distances -- to Dallas, Houston, San Antonio or Austin -- just to take abortion pills for legal abortions if the law passes. Those women will then have to come back within 24 or 48 hours for the second dose or increase their risk of "hemorrhage, blood transfusion and emergent D&C."
Erica wrote about her sister's friend, who was forced to bear the child after she was raped (and badly injured) in college. This was when abortions were illegal, and the woman eventually dropped out of school.
"When she walked down the street, people would whisper about her being a rape victim," Erica wrote, adding that the pregnancy was a constant reminder of the rape. "At the grocery store, people would congratulate her and ask questions about her pregnancy, always reminding her that she was carrying the rapist's fetus."
An anonymous writer recalled that her sister found herself pregnant several years ago, when she was a single mother already. The sister "agonized" and eventually decided to have an abortion. Although the writer said she disagreed with that decision, she supported her sister's choice anyway.
"So I was the one who took her to the clinic, held her hand and supported her in the months that followed," she wrote. "I would have been devastated had that option not been available or affordable for her."
Joy's mother worked in an abortion clinic. Although she taught Joy that she was proud of the work she was doing, Joy also recalled that the women who went to the clinic were harassed on their way there "to make what was undoubtedly a difficult and agonizing decision."
Joy's mother also once told her about a devout religious couple who had too many children and couldn't afford one more. They said, "God would understand" and were comfortable with their decision.
Davis cried as she read one woman's testimony about needing to abort her pregnancy because of medical complications.
"Instead of choosing an outfit for her to move home, I was picking out her burial gown," Davis read, according to the Texas Tribune's live blog. "I held her -- kissed her -- watched her get baptized -- told her that I loved her and I said, 'Goodbye.'"
Despite that searing memory, the writer wrote that she opposed Senate Bill 5.
Patricia wrote that her friend almost died of an abortion, but she talked about hypocrisy and misogyny in her story to Davis.
"The government has no right to take my guns but does have the right to force me to have a baby I can't care for?" she wrote. "I believe with all my heart that the real sin is, not to have an abortion but to bring into this world a child whom you know you cannot care for properly."
Ellen was raped on a date when she was 17, she wrote. Then learned she was pregnant.
"My only thought was to kill myself, because I didn't know any other option available to me," she wrote. But her mother intervened and took her to an abortion clinic, where she ended her pregnancy.
"The entire experience was horrible, but I cannot imagine what it would be like under the circumstances that Texas now wants to make women undergo," Ellen wrote. "I made a decision to save my life: my own, and it was the most important decision I've ever made and will ever make."
Read about Roe v. Wade's 40th anniversary.