Wendy Davis is the woman everyone’s talking about. The Texan state Senator performed a one-woman filibuster to halt the passage of a major Texas abortion bill, SB 5, a bill that would give Texas some of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country. Here’s what you need to know about the sneaker-wearing Senator behind it all.
— Wendy Davis (@WendyDavisTexas) June 25, 2013
1. Wendy Davis Grew Up in Poverty in Fort Worth, Texas
Wendy Davis was born on May 16, 1963 and grew up in Fort Worth, Texas. Davis was raised by a single mother with three siblings and started working at a very early age to support her family, reports The Christian Science Monitor. Davis had to care for her three siblings at the age of 14.
2. She Was a Single Mother at 19
She herself became a single mom by the time she was 19 and worked hard to make something of herself. She has a second daughter. According to her website:
“By 19, Wendy was a single mother herself, working two jobs to make ends meet in hopes of creating a better life for her young daughter.”
3. She Put Herself Through Harvard Law School
She put herself through school by starting out at a two-year paralegal program at Tarrant County College and later transferred to Texas Christian University, where she graduated at the top of her class. After becoming the first person in her family to go to college, she continued on to earn her law degree from Harvard Law School. She graduated with honors.
4. She Was First Elected for the City Council in 1999
Davis was first elected for Fort Worth city council in 1999 and was reelected every two years during her nine-year tenure as a council member. Her area of focus was transportation, economic development and neighborhood issues.
5. She Represents District 10 in the Texas Senate
In 2008, she beat out Republican Kim Brimer for a seat as a representative for District 10 in the Texas Senate. Davis was elected again in 2012 after beating out Mark Shelton.
6. She Attempted to Block a New Abortion Law With a Filibuster
At 11:18 am on June 25, Wendy Davis stood from her chair and took the floor of the Texas senate. She stood there for a total of 11 hours in an attempt to stop the passing of a law which would significantly lower the number of abortion clinics in Texas as well as restrict abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy. The bill would effectively shut down 37 of the states 42 abortion clinics, giving texas some of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country.
7. The Abortion Bill is Meant to ‘Protect Women’s Health’
Supporters of the bill say is meant to protect women’s health. Having said that, most of the states abortion clinics would be shut down.
8. Davis Became a Twitter Sensation (Even Obama Tweeted About Her)
As the day went on, Senator Davis’ filibuster brewed a social media storm. Twitter caught on fire by the evening of June 25 with at least 730,000 tweets about the filibuster. Just two minutes before the deadline, 5,776 were spewed out per minute. Hashtags such as #standwithwendy, #SB5, #texlege were trending on the internet.
At 10:30 pm. the YouTube channel that was live streaming the special senate session passed 100,00 viewers and the numbers jumped with Senator Davis was told she “strayed off topic.”
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) June 26, 2013
9. Her Filibuster Worked Although It Was Ruled That She Went Off Topic
Davis’ filibuster was cut short with just under two hours left by Lieutenant Gov. David Dewhurst who ruled that she went off topic. Davis was allowed three warnings before the Senate voted on if the filibuster should continue. However, although the filibuster ended early, a late-night vote on the bill was rendered moot because it did not follow legislative procedures and giving democrats a victory, reports The New York Times.
Ultimately, after much confusion, it worked. Senate leaders tried to push a vote through, but didn’t do so until a couple of minutes after midnight and, around 3 a.m., the state’s legislature declared a special session over meaning that the Bill did not pass.
Thanks to the powerful voices of thousands of Texans, #SB5 is dead. An incredible victory for Texas women and those who love them.
— Wendy Davis (@WendyDavisTexas) June 26, 2013
10. This is Not Her First Filibuster
In 2011, Davis launched a filibuster of a budget bill that cut $4 billion from public education in the state, resulting in a special session called by Texas Gov. Rick Perry. Last year, firebombs were thrown at Davis’ office in connection to her movement. She was not present at the time, and no one was injured.
According to the Washington Post, Wendy is “one of the more successful users of the filibuster.”