State House and Senate members are all too often treated like the kids eternally stuck on the JV squad by the media, but on June 25, Texas Democratic state Senator Wendy Davis commandeered the national spotlight when she filibustered a controversial bill — Senate Bill 5 — which would make abortions illegal in Texas 20 weeks after conception. The bill would create more stringent qualifications for a health facility to qualify for performing abortions, in effect shuting down most abortion clinics in Texas, if not all of them.
PolicyMic’s Elizabeth Plank jumped on the story as it happened. Since then, Davis has continued her filibuster, intending to do so until 12:00 am local time, which is the deadline for the vote on the bill. If a vote is not held by then, another special session of the Senate will have to be called.
But other than a champion of women's rights, just who is Wendy Davis?
She has the quintessential American story.
Davis’s official website (next to a picture of Senator Davis with a yellow lab that just screams “America, y'all,”) chronicles her early life, which consisted of a pick-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps story that even Andrew Carnegie would envy:
"She began working after school at 14 to help support her single mother and three siblings. 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."
Eventually, Davis enrolled in community college, transferring to and graduating from Texas Christian University and, later, Harvard Law School. Post-Harvard, she moved back to Texas and practiced law at a private firm before winning two close contests for her Texas Senate seat — once in 2008 and again in 2012.
This is not her first rodeo in women’s advocacy.
Since joining the state Senate, Davis has focused on an array of pet issues, including job growth, education, and veterans' benefits; but women’s health and safety have been among her main focuses. Votesmart.org indicates that she voted “nay” to a 2011 bill that requires doctors to perform sonograms within 24 hours of performing any abortion procedure. (The bill passed.) NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, the local wing of a national pro-choice interest group, gave Davis a 100% score in 2009, and the “Women's Issues” industry contributed heavily to her re-election campaign in 2012. Additionally, Davis co-sponsored a bill that provides resources to hospitals to ensure that they are capable of gathering physical evidence after an alleged assault takes place. That bill passed the state legislature earlier this year.
Throughout the filibuster, Davis refused to answer any questions, a tactic that worked this evening far worked, but probably will not when all of this is over and she finds herself a political celebrity — at least for the moment.
**As of publication, the Texas state senate has just finished an hour long debate over a point of order pertaining to whether or not Davis broke the rules by straying off topic. The point of order was sustained, meaning that Davis's filibuster could be broken before midnight, though it seems there will be more appeals and stalling tactics to delay the vote further.