Some issues are just too important to let things like legislative calendars get in the way. Texas has called a special session to discuss an omnibus anti-abortion bill, made by combining past smaller anti-abortion bills that have failed individually. If it passes, Texan women's access to health care will be severely limited and their right to an abortion will be almost eliminated since only five abortion clinics will be left in the entire state.
Texan Democratic politicians have been able to block all the previous attempts by their Republican counterparts to erode women's rights, but this special session is run under different procedural rules than regular legislative sessions and will make it easier for the Republicans to pass the bill.
However, Texans are having none of that.
While the House told all anti-abortion activists to avoid giving testimony so that they would be able to force the bill through before the June 25 end of the session, opponents of the bill came from far and wide to explain exactly how passing the bill would hurt them. Over 700 average citizens from across Texas signed up to testify in front of the legislature. They were not only sharing their stories and hoping to convey the need for women's health clinics, but they were staging a sort of "people's filibuster."
Seven hours into the testimony period, there were still 300 people left to testify when the Republican chairman of the House told the crowd that the testimony had become "repetitive," and that the remaining people would not be given a chance to speak. The citizens were outraged, especially when a state trooper forced one woman off the testifying platform. Chanting "Let her speak!", the crowd demanded more time to testify, and eventually, they were granted three more hours.
I could explain how obnoxious it is that someone attempting to deny people their liberties finds it tedious to hear about the rights he's taking away, but the testimony of one Lesli Simms says it better than I could. "Our words are not repetitive," she stated. "Our government’s attacks on our choice, on our bodies, is repetitive.”
House Democrats are planning a formal filibuster for next week to delay the bill until the next real legislative session, and they're likely to succeed. Of course, the fight for women's reproductive rights in Texas is not over as Governor Rick Perry has stated that his "ultimate goal" is banning abortion in the state. But while the war rages on, this battle has been won.
Chalk it up as People: 1, Overreaching Politicians: 0.