The Bodies the Republican Senate Could Not Bully Or Control

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Senator Wendy Davis's filibuster of SB5 did more than just protect our rights and save the very lives of Texas women.

The battles over the last week — fought predominantly and most publicly by women, for women — served as a wake-up call and a history lesson for young female Americans in particular that no, we cannot take our reproductive rights for granted.

Our rights remain just as much under attack as they were for our mothers and grandmothers. And Republicans and conservatives made no effort to hide the lows to which they will stoop to deny women autonomy over our bodies.

The personal stories read aloud by Davis were heart-wrenching. Desperately wanted children found to have fatal developmental abnormalities late in a pregnancy. Women forced to carry their rapists' offspring to term who were congratulated by unknowing strangers. Those of us who are already involved in reproductive rights may be familiar with these situations, but for the worldwide audience to hear the many nuanced reasons why the right to choose must remain with the woman who faces the myriad consequences of a pregnancy, they were eye-opening.

They were the stories of the real women whose lives were at stake in the debate over SB5, and now we all must carry those stories with us as we fight to end was truly is a war on women.  

Read more below the jump about the body the Republican Senate ultimately failed to control.The bullying by the Republican Senators last night — their lack of respect for Davis's efforts, their party-line vote against her use of a back brace, for crying out loud — was witnessed in vivid detail by hundreds of thousands of people who joined the Texas Tribune's online feed and millions more who followed the events via Twitter and Facebook.

Senators, you looked like a bunch of bullies and a bunch of jerks. And Texas women will not be bullied by the likes of you.

After a week of women's voices being silenced by male Republicans — our testimony cut off in the State Affairs committee, our clapping in the gallery silenced, our silent “spirit fingers” disallowed — an endless cavalcade of women being told to hush, simmer down, and be silent — the women of Texas and the men who stand with them had had ENOUGH.

Senator Leticia Van de Putte's question, perhaps the line of the night — “At what point must a female senator raise her hand to be recognized over the male colleagues in the room?” — unleashed a primal scream that had been building not merely during this one week, but for generations. It was a raw vocalization of frustration about the crap that women go through all the damn time.

In the end, the body the Republican Senators failed to control was their own, thanks to the tireless efforts of Wendy Davis to give voice to those who had been shut out of the debate, and the voices of those who were tired of being told to sit politely while our very lives were at risk.

I know there are “rules of decorum” that establish standards behavior for our governmental buildings. But when Texans are threatened with jail time if they make noise in opposition a bill that could end their lives — and when the body that sets such rules refuses to follow them themselves — then we as a citizenry have an obligation to not just speak but scream out.

We have to keep that scream going.

Rick Perry may well add another special session and put abortion restrictions back on the call. Regardless, our state is still underfunding education, underfunding women's health, passing intentionally discriminatory redistricting maps, and treating our women, minorities, LGBT folks, children and the poor as a permanent underclass meant to be preyed on by the powerful.

Yesterday, Wendy Davis helped wake up millions of women and men about what's at stake with this bill and other bad legislation just like it. We won this battle, but it's up to all of us to keep yelling — and organizing — until we finally win this war.  

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About Author

Katherine Haenschen

Katherine Haenschen is a PhD candidate at the University of Texas, where she studies political participation on digital media. She previously managed successful candidate, issue, voter registration, and GOTV campaigns in Central Texas. She is also a fan of UCONN women's basketball and breakfast tacos.

1 Comment

  1. Renewing deputy voter registrar status
    Between the VRA repeal and this mess of a special session I've signed up to get re-registered as a deputy voter registrar next week.

    Time to start pounding the pavement again…

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