Texas senator Wendy Davis gained a larger following and fan base after her filibuster against a restrictive abortion bill Tuesday. Ultimately, the final vote occurred after midnight Wednesday, and Republicans conceded the legislation.
SB 5 would have prohibited abortions after 20 weeks, and could have caused all but five of the state’s abortion clinics to close.
A presidential tweet foreshadowed the eventful night. From Barack Obama’s account, “Something special is happening in Austin tonight. #StandwithWendy”
Davis’ standing and speaking up for women’s rights inspired many. For others, she represented an anti-baby and anti-American abortion agenda. However, Davis is no stranger to controversy or perseverance.
The senator was once a teenage single mother and self-identified member of the working class. Her dedication and scholarship took her from community college to Harvard Law School. She has served Fort Worth since 2008.
Impassioned abortion debate pervaded Twitter. Hashtags often revealed the side of the issue with which users identified. #StandwithWendy users cyber-battled those who tweeted #letTHEMspeak and #standwithlife.
On the Senate floor, procedural rules prohibited food, leaning on the podium or restroom breaks. Three strikes forced Davis to sit. Her first strike happened when she was accused of speaking off-topic. The second strike occurred when a fellow senator put a back brace on her. The third strike came when she was, again, accused of topical straying.
As supporters in attendance shouted, “Let her speak!”, #StandwithWendy tweets came in at rapid-fire pace. By midnight, more than 100,000 people were watching the live stream.
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Bill supporters argued that it would protect women and babies. Some cited Dr. Kermit Gosnell’s heinous acts, which included but were not limited to: killing infants who were born during late-term abortions, infecting patients with unclean instruments and perforating women’s wombs.
Pro-choicers argued the irony of male senators debating Davis’ right to speak about what happens to women’s bodies, particularly when she is elected and paid to do so.
Many feared that SB5 would cause women to seek abortions across the border and under unsafe circumstances. Their concerns are founded, as the World Health Organization estimates that about a third of maternal deaths stem from illegally induced abortions.
Others believed that the bill, its supporters and attempts to silence Davis indicate an anti-woman climate and political party.
“The more Republicans take actions that are anathema to younger women, the more we will hear from Democrats about the Republican War against Women. In the age of the Internet and the social media, it is impossible to build a wall around Texas,” Texas Monthly’s Paul Burka wrote.
As Davis spoke Tuesday, she painted an academic and anatomical wall that added to her don’t-mess-with-Texas legend. “Lawmakers, either get out of the vagina business or go to medical school.”