Tuesday, June 25, 2013
Today, Texas State Senator Wendy Davis will attempt to spend 13 hours filibustering a generally senseless state law that would, effectively, ban abortion within the state of Texas.
As of this writing, she has spent more than nine hours holding the floor of the Texas Legislature, with as little assistance as possible.
A bit of background, from the Texas Tribune (emphasis ours):
During a filibuster, a senator is limited to topics relevant to the bill being discussed and cannot eat, drink or use the restroom during the speech. The rules also prohibit sitting or leaning on a desk or chair under any circumstances when the senator has the floor and is speaking on the bill or resolution.
Filibusters end either when the senator voluntarily yields the floor or after three violations of the rules for decorum and debate. After the third violation, the Senate can vote on a point of order, which if sustained would force the senator to yield the floor, according to the Legislative Reference Library of Texas website.
The Senate might be able to force a vote on Senate Bill 5, the abortion restriction measure Davis is seeking to kill, if she yields the floor. That means that if she hopes to delay action on SB 5 — for now, anyway — Davis must speak continuously until midnight, when the session ends.
Filibustering senators are allowed to pause to take questions while on the floor. If someone asks Davis a question, it gives her a chance to stop speaking.
To clarify here, Davis will have to (and, again, has for nine hours) refrain from eating, drinking, going to the bathroom, sitting, or leaning for thirteen continual hours.
This is impressive in itself, but what's more amazing is that Davis is doing so in order to block the aforementioned SB 5, which would practically ban abortion in the state of Texas by enforcing a tremendous amount of restrictive rules:
[SB 5] would ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy and force many clinics that perform the procedure to upgrade their facilities and be classified as ambulatory surgical centers. Also, doctors would be required to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles — a tall order in rural communities.
Now, you might disagree with Davis's politics, or the manner in which she's gaming the system to kill SB 5.
But at the very least you have to respect that fact that this woman is doing her outright damnedest to challenge a law that she feels is unjust, one which even puts a control on the abortion rights of women who suffered rape or incest because hospital rape kits "clean them out" of all the pregnancy-inducing sperm cells.
Davis is having her very own Mr. Smith Goes to Washington moment, defending the rights of people who might not even need to ever have an abortion, but feel safer having the option — and isn't having options what we all really want?
Good luck, Wendy Davis. We're standing with you.