3 Things Wendy Davis Accomplished With Her Filibuster
The state senator defeated an abortion bill and rose to national prominence.
June 26, 2013— -- Led by Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis' 13-hour filibuster, Democrats were able to defeat a controversial abortion bill in that state legislature on Tuesday night. Davis' action attracted national attention and rekindled the debate over the issue. Here are three major takeaways from her dramatic filibuster.
1. She Defeated An Abortion Bill
The legislation she helped defeat, dubbed Senate Bill 5, was considered one of the most restrictive abortion bills in the country. It would have banned abortion after 20 weeks, required all abortions to be performed in ambulatory surgical centers, and required doctors to have hospital admitting privileges within 30 miles of an abortion facility, according to the Texas Tribune.
Supporters of the bill focused on the late-term abortion ban, calling the practice inhumane and noting that the public is opposed to it. Sixty-two percent of Texans said they would support prohibiting the practice in a June Texas Tribune poll. But opponents said the measure would have gone much farther. The bill's requirements could have forced almost all 42 abortion clinics to close in Texas, the country's second-largest state.
2. She Raised Her Political Profile
As her filibuster went on, Davis became an overnight sensation. She drew a national audience, with more than 180,000 people viewing the YouTube live stream just before 1 a.m. ET. Even more people followed the event on Twitter. Over the past day, the hashtag #StandWithWendy had been mentioned over 500,000 times according to Topsy, many more than the 350,000-plus mentions of yesterday's Supreme Court decision on the Voting Rights Act.
Even President Obama's account got in on the action. And Davis herself gained roughly 60,000 followers in 24 hours. Davis, whom Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) once called a "show horse," had garnered speculation as a potential Democratic candidate for governor in 2014. And that talk only increased after her filibuster. As a teenage mother who graduated from Harvard Law School, she already had a compelling background. And Democrats certainly loved the image of a woman like her leading the charge against a GOP abortion bill.
3. She Gave Us A Lesson In Parliamentary Procedure
Texas filibusters are confined by strict rules. The senator must stand and speak continuously on topics related to the underlying bill. The senators can't take a break (for snacks, bathroom, etc.), and can't even lean on their desk. Republicans tried multiple times to call points of order against Davis to try and stop the filibuster. One was called after a colleague tried to assist her with her back brace.
By 11 p.m. ET, Davis has been cited for three points of order over rules violations. Republicans then attempted to shut off the filibuster for good. Democrats countered and filled the remaining two hours with debate over parliamentary procedures to attempt to run out the clock against the legislative session. The debate was capped by state Sen. Leticia Van De Putte's (D) remark: "At what point must a female senator raise her hand or her voice to be recognized over her male colleagues in the room?" By the time senators got around to voting on the proposal, the clock had already struck midnight and the bill was dead.