It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, but at no time had I ever felt such a roller coaster of emotions than I did while watching Texas Senator Wendy Davis stand for nearly thirteen hours, without a break, without food or water, not leaning on or even touching her podium as she delivered an epic filibuster against the harsh anti-abortion bills being forced though the Texas Legislature on Tuesday, June 26th. Not when Scott Walker was facing re-call in Wisconsin, nor at any presidential election had I felt such a range of emotions from deep despair to wild jubilation. I was alternately yelling then crying at the video streaming over my computer screen. Fits of anger, tears of joy!
But Texas women knew deep down that they were screwed. The fix was in, the game was rigged. The Republican led Congress had the votes and didn’t give a damn what the women of Texas wanted, much less needed. They had an agenda and by God they intended to ram it though. They tried every dirty trick in the book to settle the matter that fateful night and were caught red-handed trying to change the clock time on the official vote ballot when they ran over by 3 minutes. This after levying unfair strikes against Senator Davis – 2 for going off topic (she didn’t) and 1 for receiving aid from a fellow Democrat who was helping her with her back brace (shame on that one too). But let’s back up to the ‘off topic’ calls. She mentioned budgeting effects of Planned Parenthood on women’s health services (seems legit, but we’ll give them that one). But the second foul of ‘off topic’ was when she mentioned the sonograms that is REQUIRED as part of abortion services as mandated by the State of Texas. This is most definitely germane to the discussion. But it was voted the third strike of her filibuster – effectively ending her heroic run.
See a wonderful recap of events here: “I’ll Not Yield”
It was then fellow Democrats stepped in and kept the clock running until the crowd took over in frustration and outrage that ran the roll call past the Midnight deadline. Still it was nearly 4:30 AM the next morning before Lt. Governor Dewhurst finally conceded that the bill was dead. I guess he knew the gig was up; the women of Texas knew it and were not leaving until the wrong had been set right! They won this skirmish – unfortunately probably lost this battle…but not the war, not yet.Of course, since he didn’t get his way, Gov. Perry ordered the Legislature to re-convene July 1 for another special session to begin 30 more days of work. Like the first, this second session included a Republican-backed plan that would close nearly every abortion clinic across the state and impose other widespread limits on the procedure. In fact 80% of Women’s health clinics would be closed; leaving just 5 clinics to cover over 270 thousand square miles.
Governor Perry has waged a war on women for years, claiming his strong Christian religious beliefs guided his actions. According to his god, women can’t be trusted to make healthcare decisions. He has decided that poor women, or any woman for that matter, should not have access to healthcare if it includes family planning, sex education, pre-natal care, or GOD FORBID abortion.
Since abortion is a constitutional right guaranteed to women he has to be creative. So they gut funding for family planning, force doctors to perform unnecessary procedures on women (and only women) and then shut down dozens of women’s health clinics by imposing regulations so stringent that the clinics cannot afford to remain open. It’s not a stretch to suggest that Republicans and Rick Perry in particular, hate women. But if the goal is to end abortions (and make no mistake, it IS) he is failing. All he is doing is ending safe, legal abortions in Texas and opening the door to back-alley, Gosnell-type abortion providers.
Governor Rick Perry called a special session because laws that couldn’t get passed in the regular session can be pushed through in the ‘majority-rules’ special session. Laws like the one sponsored by State Senator Glenn Hegar that will screw millions of Texas women by closing down women’s health clinics throughout the state. In between bragging about how godly he is, Hegar’s website offers us some insight to Senator Hegar describing him as a true conservative who strongly defends the values of faith, family, and freedom. That means, of course, the freedom for men to control women.Although State Sen. Glenn Hegar claimed the measures are only intended to protect women’s health by guaranteeing the best possible treatment and forcing abortion clinics to improve their facilities, after the bill passed the Senate the first time, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst gloated on Twitter about how the bill would shut down clinics.
Then there is Jody Laubenberg who co-sponsored the bill with Hegar – a woman who thinks that women who have been raped should not have access to an abortion because, “In the emergency room they have what’s called rape kits, where a woman can get cleaned out.” How could a woman, especially one sponsoring a bill on Women’s health rights be such an idiot? Besides the fact that rape kits have nothing to do with cleaning anything out, it’s the fact that a woman would have no sympathy for another woman’s rape that is so disturbing. But then most Republican women seem to feel this way, although they’re not all that stupid, most are just that mean-spirited – especially against poor women.History has shown that if a woman wants an abortion, she will seek it out wherever she can and take her chances. Usually these desperate women are poor, or young, unmarried or already burdened with children they are struggling to support. Or maybe they have career aspirations that do not include a child at this point in life – it matters not the reason – but don’t think that whatever the reason, the decision is made lightly or easily. That is another misconception promoted by so-called Pro-life proponents. Women do not use abortion as a means of birth control, but when birth control and sex education are available, it is a fact that the number of abortions decreases.
Yes, abortion is legal. But for these women, it is out of reach. It is inaccessible. And that is exactly what the anti-choice lawmakers want. They know they cannot overturn Roe v. Wade. They know there would be dire political consequences if they actually criminalized abortion. But they can still have their way. They can make it inaccessible. In Ohio much the same underhanded, sneaky tactics are going on. Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed House Bill 59 on Sunday night, which includes some of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country. In Ohio the legislature stuck anti-abortion law in the budget at the very last-minute without notice or chance of debate. Women in Ohio have lost access to low-cost family planning services, access to public hospitals during a health emergency as well as their right to privacy. This means if a woman is able to obtain an abortion in Ohio and develops some sort of medical issue during the procedure, clinics will no longer be allowed to transfer these patients to public hospitals for additional care. In the midst of a crisis, these patients must find a private hospital to help them. These measures included not medically necessary ultra-sounds and even a redefinition of abortion to name a few. The bill does provide funding for “crisis pregnancy centers” run by religious organizations that do not provide accurate health information to patients or offer abortion referral services. In North Carolina, the abortion legislature was tacked onto some silly Sharia Law (as if) at the last-minute, without notice and in secret. The new amendments would prevent insurance plans on Obama-care’s health marketplaces from covering abortion services, ban “sex-selective” abortions, impose unnecessary restrictions on doctors administering the abortion pill to women, and require the state’s abortion clinics to adhere to complicated new regulations that would likely force most of them to close. But in NC the law reaches new lows, SB 132 requires teachers to give false information to 7th graders about the perils of abortion. They MUST by law LIE to school children. North Carolina’s Republicans do not care about scientific facts. Gov. Pat McCrory pledged in his gubernatorial race that he would NOT approve any new anti-abortion laws but we’ll see what happens when it crosses his desk…
Without accurate information, without all the information, women are unable to make the best health decisions…because in some cases, the best decision will be to terminate a pregnancy. But for Republicans, the only decision is built on a lie – to schoolchildren, to patients, to rape survivors.Texas is not alone in its battle for Women’s Rights and women in ANY Republican led state had better prepare – for the dominos are falling…In Texas, more than 2,300 people signed up to testify about proposed abortion restrictions before a Texas House committee on Tuesday, July 2, but rules imposed by the panel’s top Republican mean no more than 100 members of the public would get a chance to speak.
State Rep. Byron Cook imposed an eight-hour limit on the hearing, giving each person just three minutes to speak, and he chose a room with only 67 seats. The restrictions come after a similar hearing two weeks ago turned into a 12-hour marathon after 700 protesters slowed the passage of the bill in the first special session. Rushing headlong to pass egregious abortion restriction measures, the Texas House paused just long enough to throw out, with the help of some burly state troopers, a young woman offering a great and furious rant on their war against women.
Identified as Victorian Prude, she had “prepared a statement outlining Milla Perry Jones, sister of Governor Rick Perry’s involvement as head lobbyist for allied surgical centers and doctor-owned hospitals.As the Texas Observer explained its Dec 2012 “Sister Act” article, doctor owned facilities are notorious for driving up costs because of financial incentive to overcharge for tests, procedures, services. They’ve thrown over $4,000,000 dollars at Texas politics and now HB2/SB1 would mandate upgrades that benefit yet another industry the Perry’s’ have ties to”. No wonder they were in such a hurry to get her out of there!
While pro-SB 1 advocates enjoyed the company of reported non-Texans Mike Huckabee and Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, SB 1 protesters were regaled by the sight of a familiar face during the hearing: Katie Heim, an Austin resident who closed her testimony at the House committee hearing last Tuesday with the now-iconic, “Hell hath no fury like a Texas woman scorned! Now, bless y’all’s hearts.”
On Monday night, Heim returned with further proof that she is one of the greatest people ever with her Dr. Seuss-esque poem pointing out the contradictions between the state’s pro-gun views and its proposed anti-vagina legislation. You can read the poem at the end of this article.
Anyone who thinks this is about saving innocent babies let me tell you it is not. Republican politicians have passed legislation to define pregnancy as beginning at fertilization which means most types of birth control are now be said to cause abortions. Causing an abortion can get you jailed in some states so Republican women might want to think about that really hard.
Where is the respect for the “sanctity of life” when people ignore the poor, the hungry, the homeless? When people speak of the sanctity of life, surely it must mean more than just being allowed to live. Where is the sanctity in a life that is left in the cold, to starve, to die in the streets? At best, these needs are ignored as if they aren’t there. You stay in your comfortable areas, ignoring the suffering. At worst, the poor are demonized…called moochers and takers, ridiculed and mocked. Perhaps there are some who are lazy. And some may say they don’t deserve handouts. But an anonymous author once said: “It will not bother me in the hour of my death to reflect upon how many times I gave to a person claiming to be in need that were not. But it would be a torment to know that I could have helped someone who was desperate and refused because they possibly could be better off than they seemed”.
Pro-life proponents condemn the pregnant rape victim who feels they have nowhere else to turn and no other option except abortion. They stand outside abortion clinics and shout words like “murderer” and “whore”, and this is the love of Christ? Where is the outreach for survivors of rape? Statistically speaking, between 10% and 20% of women in the United States will be the victims of rape or sexual violence in their lifetimes. Many of these go unreported out of fear and shame because of those who chose to blame the victims for “putting themselves at risk” as if the “asked for it”. So called ‘Christian’ politicians go on TV and make uneducated statements about “legitimate rape”. Where is the love? Where is the compassion?
In Austin, one after another pro-life advocate talked about their Constitutional right to have an abortion and then regretting that decision. So they want to keep other women from that regret – by denying them their choice. We heard about the ‘“sanctity of life” – that babies have to be protected at all costs, but let’s look at what the Bible has to say about abortion. Extremely little, actually, but what it does say is in direct contradiction to the anti-choice stance. In fact, the Bible is pro-choice. The contention that quality of life is a more worthwhile pursuit than simply life for the sake of life is a basic pro-choice stance.
Rather than quote and explain each verse, I direct you to this site for the information you need. Perhaps, those that truly feel inspired to follow the Bible should find out exactly what God supposedly said before rushing out to defend his word. It seems that for the most part, they have twisted or ignored it to suit their own personal agendas.
If you are pro-life, if you believe in the sanctity of all life, if you believe that all life is a gift from God to be cherished and thankful for, then you need to live that out in all areas of your life. If it simply becomes a slogan in the fight against abortion, it’s just hypocrisy.
But it ain’t over till it’s over and the Women of Texas are more than ready to continue the fight for their rights. They are coming from all across Texas to Austin – it’s an Orange Tide as far as the eye can see. Real Texas Women and Men; not people bought and bused in from other states like Rick Perry did to fill the seats in the Senate Chambers – but Texas Women who are Mad as Hell and ready to take on Rick Perry and his army of aggressors. These women will remember and they will vote. Rick Perry will not be seeking reelection, but many Republicans will. And if Republicans continue to preach to their own little choir of GOP party members, rather than the roaring voices of women and the American voters, these Republican lawmakers will pay at the polls come election time. What’s next for Wendy Davis? After reigniting the flame under the Democratic Party in Texas, her thoughts are turning to the Governor’s Mansion. She is upfront about this. And since Texas will be very busy redrawing the voting districts (thanks to the recent Supreme Court ruling that struck down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act) she may well be out of a job in Congress as her district will most assuredly be gerrymandered to represent a more Republican base. Republicans certainly don’t want Wendy Davis around if they can help it!The blow to the VRA and the new, harsher, more stringent voter registration laws that are already being implemented (the ink was hardly dry on SCOTUS ruling) in the State of Texas cause many to feel a democratic victory is out of the question in Texas. But maybe not…maybe these Republicans have unwittingly doomed their own future by awakening a sleeping giant. Not just Texas women are mad, women all across the Nation are mad and they are speaking out and standing up. There is a grassroots movement to Turn Texas Blue by Democrats who are gearing up to spend millions of dollars to bring in a new generation of Latino voters.
Should Senator Wendy Davis opt to run for governor of TX, she should have no problem winning, helping to turn Texas into a Blue State once again. Ann Richards would be proud. The World is watching – and the eyes of Texas are surely all on Senator Davis. Wendy Davis has opened a door and thousands of women are pouring through…
Katie Heim’s anti-SB 1 testimony, “If My Vagina Was A Gun” (reprinted with the author’s permission):
If my vagina was a gun, you would stand for its rights. You would ride on a bus and fight all the fights.
If my vagina was a gun, you would treat it with care. You wouldn’t spill all its secrets, because, well, why go there?
If my vagina was a gun you’d say what it holds is private. From cold dead hands we could pry; you surely would riot.
If my vagina was a gun its rights would all be protected. No matter the body count or the children affected.
If my vagina was a gun I could bypass security. Concealed carry laws would ensure I had purity.
If my vagina was a gun, I wouldn’t have to beg you. I could hunt this great land and do all the things that men do.
But my vagina’s not a gun. It’s a mightier thing. With a voice that rings true, making lawmaker’s ears ring.
Vaginas aren’t delicate, they are muscular, magic. So stop messing with mine, with legislation that’s tragic.
My vagina is here to demand from the source; listen to the voices of thousands or feel their full force.
- Texas House gives its final approval to new abortion restrictions (star-telegram.com)
- Why The Texas Bill Sucks, and Has Major Ramifications on the Nation (bbruels.wordpress.com)
- Scandal in Texas as Rick Perry’s Abortion Bill Means Big Money for His Sister (guardianlv.com)
- Texas should learn from Ireland: restricting abortions will backfire | Sadhbh Walshe (guardian.co.uk)
- Abortion Bill in Texas Draws Supporters on Both Sides (occupycorporatism.com)