By Elise Hu
Overnight, Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis became a national political name and a hero to abortion-rights supporters around the country.
The Fort Worth Democrat stood and spoke for nearly 11 hours Tuesday to run out the clock on a sweeping bill that could have closed all but five abortion clinics in the Lone Star State. Under the quirky rules of the Texas Senate, Davis wasn’t allowed to eat, drink, sit, use the bathroom, speak off-topic or lean against any furniture for the entirety of her marathon filibuster attempt.
Procedural challenges from Republican senators — who dominate the chamber — ultimately ended the filibuster two hours shy of the midnight deadline to pass or block the bill. But Democratic lawmakers helped delay the special legislative session’s final hours with parliamentary questions, as did throngs of disruptive, screaming protesters in the gallery.
When Republican lawmakers pushed through the 19-10 vote, the clock had already struck midnight, making the bill’s passage moot. This drama unfolded in the wee hours of the morning, but 160,000 people were watching along on a YouTube live stream. Many, many more were following the #standwithwendy hashtag on Twitter.
“She stood up for her beliefs. And standing up for your beliefs on either side is commendable,” said Republican political consultant Ron Bonjean. “That is impressive and that’s why Rand Paul [recently] got a lot of attention when he stood for his beliefs on U.S. Senate floor.”