Wendy Davis: Democratic Hero

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Jimmy Stewart while filibustering as “Mr. Smith” (public domain trailer view)

U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) has recently staged a couple of old-fashioned filibusters and proposed others in the populist style of Jimmy Stewart in “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.” However, it was a Texas State Senator who won the respect and love of Democrats throughout the country Tuesday night when her filibuster delayed the vote on a restrictive abortion bill.

Abortion is a very challenging issue of the culture wars. While MormonDems bloggers support the LDS teaching that abortion is a serious moral issue, we also support the Church’s provision for rare but sometimes necessary exceptions.  These include rape, incest, “serious jeopardy” to the “life or health of the mother” and when “the fetus has serious defects that will not allow the baby to survive beyond birth.” These exceptions should only be considered after discussions with the woman’s family, her doctor, and bishop or branch president. As this is a challenging personal and religious issue, the law should allow those consultations and decisions with the least amount of intrusion. It should be recognized that the Church takes no position with regard to any particular abortion legislation. You can find the Church’s official statement at this link.

Regardless of the political position taken on abortion, one has to admire the tenacity of Senator Davis.  As a representative of the minority party she extended debate through the filibuster per Texas Senate Rules. There were three instances where she was challenged on points of order. Two were allegedly “straying” from the subject of the bill as she compared it to other abortion legislation and impact on women’s reproductive health issues. The other involved a Senate colleague helping adjust the back brace she wore. Texas Senate rules for filibuster are that a Senator must stand and speak on point without assistance.

During the filibuster, Senator Davis discussed the difficult choices many women face. She was a single teenage mom at 19, after a brief failed marriage, and understands the difficulty of young mothers.  She raised concerns that the restrictive new law’s impact would make the difficult choice of abortion nearly impossible for the poor and disadvantaged in Texas.

Texas Senator Wendy Davis of Ft. Worth (Courtesy of the Bill White for Texas Campaign, creative commons license)

Texas Senator Wendy Davis of Ft. Worth
(Courtesy of the Bill White for Texas Campaign, creative commons license)

Unlike the US Senate you can not yield the floor to another ally. For 13 hours Senator Davis displayed passion and tenacity eventually carrying the evening. Like the movie “Mr. Smith”, when broken by the procedural tactics of political opponents, she received the public support from the gallery.  Their cheers were so loud the vote was delayed until after midnight when the session ended successfully stopping the bill

This was not the first time for Senator Davis.  She’s stopped the Texas Senate from cutting funding for schools also using a filibuster tactic. She takes principled stands to conquer the procedural and physical challenges – a true American and Texan hero.

As expected, Governor Rick Perry will again call a special session to allow the Texas Senate to pass the same Senate bill. Yet this does not diminish the work State Senator Wendy Davis has accomplished.  Her story is an example to everyone across the country – pink running shoes and all. She is a representative of the people and will stand up for what she and her constituents believe.

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