Wendy Davis is one tough Texan lady. On Tuesday night, this Democrat from Fort Worth filibustered away the restrictive state Senate abortion bill for 11 hours straight. This bill sought to ban the abortion of a fetus after 20 weeks, and close 37 of the 42 currently safely functioning abortion clinics.
Davis was chosen to be the speaker for this filibuster not only for her legal prowess but for her personal experiences with teen pregnancy and struggles with poverty. At only 19, Davis was newly divorced and living in a trailer park with her infant daughter. Despite this challenge, she graduated from Texas Christian University with high honors and went on to Harvard Law School. Her perspective on the situation was not only respected, but also a source of comfort and reassurance to women of all backgrounds.
Davis stood for eleven hours straight to fight this bill. She did not even lean on her podium or take a bathroom break. She literally stood for what she believed in until it became a reality. To help aid her ordeal, she called the support of pink sneakers and a back brace. However, what she lacked in physical support she gained in emotional and political support from thousands of Texas women in the Capitol, and hundreds of thousands more on social media sites. The YouTube live streaming of the filibuster had over 100,000 viewers, and Twitter backed her up even further with the hashtag #standwithwendy.
Within these 11 hours, Davis showed more knowledge and understanding of the negative implications of the bill not only for practical medical reasons, including surgical practices and doctor liability, but also for the protection and safety of women’s bodies. Davis fought for this bill with the understanding that if it passed, women would resort to unsafe and potentially deadly measures to seek the help they needed. She read testimonies of both doctors and women who had experienced medical emergencies, and who were victims of rape and sexual abuse. When a Republican attempted to steer her away from these testimonies to answer irrelevant questions, she responded resolutely “I will not yield.”
This is not the first time she successfully challenged Republicans such as Rick Perry. In 2011 she successfully fought a bill that attempted to cut $5 billion to public school programs. This historical moment was recorded by the New York Times in which the filibuster “prompted Gov. Rick Perry to send exhausted lawmakers, poised to adjourn Monday after a grueling budget battle, back into an immediate special session.”
Wendy Davis is a woman who dares to make strides for the strongest voices of the community who are directly affected by this ongoing fight between Pro-Life and Pro-Choice. Because of Wendy Davis’s determination and unyielding ferocity, Texas women will remain safe and respected when going through the hard process of an abortion. Hopefully all politicians, Democrats and Republicans alike, will work to become better versed in the biology of rape, of abortions, and of the rights that both mothers and children should be granted. As we move forward as a society, the question that remains is how do we protect the rights and the bodies of all?
Wendy Davis’s actions are a brave and big step towards this progress. The education of women and women’s fight for equality and for proper medical attention is not one that will ever be put down, because eliminating health care facilities for women eliminates health care facilities for our future. It takes away the options for women to have families when they are ready, or choose on their own right, not their medical situation, to not have families at all. Providing for the wellbeing and the choice of all people is a basic right that cannot be denied.
Wendy Davis has labored successfully to keep health care options open to women, but the fight does not end at the close of an 11 hour filibuster or at the operating room door. We need to continue to educate ourselves on the reproductive process and system that we are born with in order to make the most informed choice. No longer can the ignorance of others make decisions for us. Being educated on choices is what comes before an act, before a bill, and before a law. The next step is to educate all people, women, men, politicians, and voters on the basic workings of the human reproductive system so that all will know the true meaning of choice.