In the wee hours Wednesday, someone stole onto Wendy Davis’s
In what seemed like an Internet instant, the 50-year-old onetime teen mother and Harvard Law School graduate went from obscure Texas legislator to American feminist sensation. The hashtag #StandWithWendy trended on
The Democratic Texas state senator took the floor of her chamber for 11 hours to filibuster against yet another tiresome conservative effort to turn back the clock on women's reproductive rights. It was her second attention-grabbing filibuster. In 2011, she engaged the same tactic to beat back $4 billion in state funding cuts to education.
Despite the best efforts of
The bill was damaging beyond its imposition of a timeline for abortions. (The Supreme Court, in 1973's Roe vs. Wade said that states may not restrict abortions until after fetal viability, which is generally agreed to be around 24 to 25 weeks of gestation.)
Although it did make an exception for a woman’s physical health, it did not make an allowance for mental health, nor did it allow
(Also, I am starting to feel like I could type this stuff with my eyes closed. It is the same story in state after state. Even our Republican-dominated
[Updated 3:25 p.m., June 26: On Wednesday, Republican Texas Gov.
"Through their duly elected representatives, the citizens of our state have made crystal clear their priorities for our great state," Perry said in a statement. "Texans value life and want to protect women and the unborn…. We will not allow the breakdown of decorum and decency to prevent us from doing what the people of this state hired us to do."
Terri Burke, executive director of the Texas
Even if it does, what Davis did was pull back the curtain on the lie that anti-abortion activists bring more passion to the issue than those who favor abortion rights.
The last moments of the session were raucous, and pretty fun to watch, at least from my vantage point.
As about 200,000 people watched the Texas Senate's live stream, hundreds of protesters in the chamber's balcony, mostly women, chanted and yelled and generally made it impossible for the lawmakers to hear themselves.
Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, a Republican, denounced them as "an unruly mob."
Well, one man's "unruly mob" is another woman's display of democracy in action. I'm sure we'll be hearing stories out of the conservative blogosphere about how those slovenly women made a mess of the Texas statehouse. It's what they did to Wisconsin public employee union protesters. If you don't like their passion, trash 'em!
Cecile Richards, president of
"What has happened here in Texas over the course of the last week is nothing short of remarkable," she wrote. "Facing near-impossible odds, thousands of Texans descended on Austin to make their voices heard — telling their legislators they would not stand for legislation that would hurt thousands of women and essentially end access to safe, legal abortion."
Whether this is a turning point in the abortion debate remains to be seen.
But one thing is clear: up until Tuesday night, it was easy for people who are zealous about restricting women's rights to persuade themselves that the grass roots intensity is all on their side.
As we saw last night, nothing could be further from the truth.