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Guest post: why I'm in awe of Senator Wendy Davis

(73 Posts)
KateMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 26-Jun-13 14:45:58

Last night, US Senator Wendy Davis spoke in the Texas Senate for 11 hours straight in order to prevent a law which would seriously limit Texan women's access to abortion.

In today's guest post, American-born, UK-based film critic and journalist Karen Krizanovich reflects on the achievements of a remarkable woman - "a Democrat pointed to the future".

Share your thoughts on this thread, and if you blog on this issue, don't forget to post your URLs.

'As an American woman who has needed the services Texas state senator Wendy Davis was fighting to retain - and on behalf of all the women who will still be able to access safe and legal abortion if they need it - I'd like to say thank you, Senator, for fighting and winning this battle.

Americans love freedom. Freedom is one of their favourite subjects - and yet, as Sen. Davis' filibuster last night reminded us, in the Land Of The Free, abortion has always been a struggle. And they say Americans can't do irony.

Texas is a Republican state, and its political system is notorious for back-room deals and vested interest. In a senate packed with old money patriarchs, Sen. Wendy Davis is a Democrat pointed to the future.

Raised by a single mother and working from the age of 14, Davis is no stranger to 'normal' life as it is lived. Pregnant at 19, she raised her first daughter in what was effectively a caravan park. Spurred by a fierce determination to improve her lot and by a powerful belief in justice, she graduated first in her community college class, and went on to study law at Harvard.

Last night, in a tradition dating back to Ancient Greece, Davis got on her feet in the Texas state senate, and held the floor for almost 11 hours in order to stymie an anti-abortion vote. Without leaning, eating, drinking or a loo break (the rules) Davis stayed on her feet - only to have pandemonium erupt over whether she'd done it right, long enough, or legally.

Finally, in the wee hours, it was confirmed that Davis had indeed stood the test of time to deny the passing of SB5, the Omnibus Abortion Bill, which would have effectively closed 80% of currently operating abortion clinics in the state with the second highest population in the US.

The Twitterverse exploded, taking her followers from a modest 1200 to a global-icon-level 60,000. Her final tweet from @WendyDavisTexas: "Thanks to the powerful voices of thousands of Texans, #SB5 is dead. An incredible victory for Texas women and those who love them."

There speaks not only a true American, but also a woman who understands that freedom in America is a tricky thing indeed.

Yes, women in the most powerful country in the world are still battling for this basic freedom. I remember a bumper sticker I saw on a car back home which read, "Against abortion? Don't have one." The year was 1973 - and yet here we are again.'

Karen Krizanovich can be found over here - do check out her blog.

littlemissnormal Wed 26-Jun-13 21:18:58

An inspiration.

YoniMatopoeia Wed 26-Jun-13 21:51:05

I think she was great. Love the guest blog too.

BasilBabyEater Wed 26-Jun-13 21:51:46

Yay Wendy! flowers

MsUumellmahaye Wed 26-Jun-13 22:06:25

just brilliant x

edam Wed 26-Jun-13 22:13:21

Annie, filibustering is a technique used in many parliaments - including our own, although I can't think of any recent examples. When a bill needs to pass before a set deadline, a legislator can stop it by talking it out. Literally talking for as long as it takes to ensure the bill misses the deadline.

It's a legitimate technique that is within the rules - unlike the Republican stitch-up last night when they tried to lie about what day it was when they held a vote on the bill. Which, thanks to eagle-eyed people taking screen shots, they had to admit was the wrong side of midnight. So Wendy won after all, despite the attempt by the anti-abortionists to trick their way out of it.

In the UK - don't know about other systems - you can also try to delay the passage of a bill so it doesn't become law by the end of one parliamentary session. Then if the government insists on having whatever it is passed, they have to bring it back for the next session (i.e. after the Queen's speech/State opening).

the MN thread on this - people were watching it last night, some of them staying up far later than I was able to

NicholasTeakozy Wed 26-Jun-13 22:16:27

The land of the free. hmm One of the things I've taught my daughters is not to trust rich white men, they don't have your interests at heart. Well done Wendy, you did a fantastic job. I hope the fuckers don't put you through it again.

SamanthaJones Wed 26-Jun-13 22:17:31

What a brilliant woman

gallicgirl Wed 26-Jun-13 22:34:45

You all need to watch Mr Smith Goes To Washington to see how filibustering works.

So lovely to see all the support for Ms Davis. Unfortunately I suspect there will be more battles.

Manchesterhistorygirl Wed 26-Jun-13 22:48:30

What an amazing woman! So proud of her work for other women who don't have the chance to speak up.

MalenkyRusskyDrakonchik Wed 26-Jun-13 22:50:44

Great blog.

Wendy Davis is wonderful, but sad news - Rick Perry called a special session.

I'm really furious that he called this a breakdown in 'decorum and decency' - yeah, cos women (both Davis, and the women senators who were shouted down, and the women protesters) should obviously stay quiet and demure while men sort out What's Right. For women's bodies. hmm

5madthings Wed 26-Jun-13 22:56:01

Wendy Davis rocks! An amazing woman.

I am gutted they have called a 'special session', how does that work, how long will it last. Please let the bill be blocked again.

Snazzywaitingforsummer Wed 26-Jun-13 22:56:46

Amazing and heroic effort. Well done Senator Davis.

edam Wed 26-Jun-13 23:17:55

From the other thread:

BREAKING NEWS...

Governor Rick Perry has called a second special session to debate and vote on SB5.

He said, "we will not allow the breakdown of decorum and decency to prevent us from doing what the people of this state hired us to do."

Session to be held on 1st July.

PutThatDownNow Wed 26-Jun-13 23:32:54

Thank you Senator Davis. Shame on you Governor Perry.

NatashaBee Wed 26-Jun-13 23:41:43

But at least this time, after all the attention Wendy Davis has drawn to the issue, they might be held a little more accountable for answering the questions put to them about the bill, instead of trying to ignore her points on a technicality like a colleague helping her put on a back brace.

LineRunner Wed 26-Jun-13 23:48:39

Yes, this will at least be 'eyes of the world' stuff now.

CoolStoryBro Thu 27-Jun-13 00:16:41

She was very inspiring. As were the hundreds of people who watched and carried on her work when she wasn't allowed to by shouting, "Liberty" endlessly.

It's a very bad day to be an old, white Republican male but a great day here for everyone else!!

Fwiw, there were parts of the bill I agreed with. I didn't agree with the closing of abortion clinics for all but a handful.

Guerrillacrochet Thu 27-Jun-13 02:42:17

She is an amazing woman, and so inspirational. What I don't get is that apparently 80% of Texans (in one poll, to be fair) are not in favour of the new restrictions either! article

Sephy Thu 27-Jun-13 08:02:01

I am impressed to see someone standing up so literally for what they believe in, although I do not personally support abortion.

What does wind me up about this post is the bumper sticker slogan at the end - for those who believe (as many, e.g lots of Christians do) that life begins at conception and therefore that the unborn have rights to life, saying "against abortion, don't get one" makes about as much sense as "against slavery? Don't have a slave!" or "against child abuse? Don't abuse a child!".

I appreciate that the vast majority of people who are in favour of abortion don't share my stance on life from conception, but campaigning along those lines really misses the point many anti-abortion arguments are making.

Thanks for the explanation, edam.

Llareggub Thu 27-Jun-13 09:50:29

Another vote for the web chat with Wendy Davis.

caramelwaffle Thu 27-Jun-13 12:09:16

Utterly inspiring. Well done Senator Davis.

Shame on you Governor Perry.

RalphGnu Thu 27-Jun-13 12:17:28

Amazing, inspiring, courageous woman. Moved me to tears and I have emailed her to thank her for what she has done.

AmandaPandtheTantrumofDoom Thu 27-Jun-13 12:38:24

Sephy - I just want to point out that the 'therefore' in your argument isn't automatic. I believe that life (in some form) begins at conception. I also wish I lived in a world where every pregnancy was a viable and wanted pregnancy. It would be lovely if no women ever needed or wanted an abortion. But we don't live in that world, and I believe that the rights of the already born trump those of the unborn and we don't get to hold women hostage to a pregnancy that they do not want to continue. So I believe that life begins at conception, but I am also pro-choice.

Senator Davis did an amazing thing for women's rights. I followed some of it on Twitter before I had to go to bed. I find the US approach to abortion, and many women's issues, increasingly troubling. Avoidance of a proper debate on the issues by pretending something is just a health measure when it is actually a stealth reduction in women's rights is incredibly scary and dangerous.

MalenkyRusskyDrakonchik Thu 27-Jun-13 12:52:02

sephy, I would find it easier to sympathise if you hadn't just characterised people who don't agree with you as 'people who are in favour of abortion'.

That makes me feel you are expecting special pleading for your point of view, while quite happy to twist your characterisation of other people's views to suit your own agenda. That's not really fair, IMO.

I think 'don't like abortion - don't have one' is a limited statement, just like 'don't like slavery - don't have a slave'. I don't think it's quite as offensive as calling people who want abortion to be an option for women 'in favour of abortion'.

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