Watch: US senator talk for 13 hours in bid to stop anti abortion bill

26/06/13, 8:32 AM


View more articles from Natalie Reilly

Wendy Davis plans to speak for 13 hours.

Wendy Davis plans to speak for 13 hours.Photo: AP

Texas, as you well know, is a conservative state. George W Bush was governor there before he became president, (former presidential candidate, Republican Rick Perry is currently governor). So it should come as no surprise that they're trying to pass an anti-abortion bill known as SB5 that would ban abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy and shut down many abortion clinics in the state of Texas. Indeed, the number of abortion clinics could drop from 47 down to 5.

Democratic senator Wendy Davis is doing everything she can to stop the bill from passing by filibusting for 13 hours. That is to say, she's talking for 13 hours straight so that the bill can not be passed. The rules stipulate that she remain standing, not lean on her desk or take any breaks — even for meals or to use the bathroom. Colleagues removed her chair so she wouldn't sit down by mistake. Davis is also wearing sneakers, (they're pink) to try to stay comfortable. If this seems ridiculous to you, consider the fact that it's a favoured tactic to stop bills passing in the US, particularly among those in the Republican party, (like if they want to prevent gun control for example).

We digress.

Long stand: Wendy Davis is not allowed to stand or lean.
Long stand: Wendy Davis is not allowed to stand or lean.Photo: AP

Davis has garnered the attention and support of women around the world for her efforts, with the hashtag #SB5 exploding on twitter. In her opening remarks, Davis, who was chosen to lead the charge because she had a baby as a teenager before going on to graduate from Harvard law school, said she was "rising on the floor today to humbly give voice to thousands of Texans" and called Republican efforts to pass the bill a "raw abuse of power." 

According to The Star Tribune,

In the hallway outside the Senate chamber, hundreds of women stood in line, waiting for people in the gallery to give up their seats. Women's rights supporters wore orange t-shirts to show their support for Davis, and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst had to remind those in the gallery that interrupting the proceedings could results in 48 hours in jail. When a male protester stood in the Senate gallery and shouted, "abortion is genocide," Davis continued talking uninterrupted as the man was removed by security.

Opponents to an abortion bill sit in the senate chamber as Wendy Davis speaks.
Opponents to an abortion bill sit in the senate chamber as Wendy Davis speaks.Photo: AP

We don't think we've heard anyone talk with such deliberate slowness in our lives. You can watch her live below. You can also tell your own story of abortion and she will read it out during her filibuster or you can donate at her website here.




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