Texas State Bill 5 was little known before June 25. Referred to as SB5, the bill, if passed, would restrict abortions in Texas after 20 weeks of pregnancy and close 37 of the 42 abortion clinics within Texan borders. In a predominantly conservative state, the bill seemed destined to pass easily, leaving as its only legacy a minor uproar in liberal states, before it faded from memory as people realized that they were powerless to do anything about it.
But that didn't happen, and the bill died instead. Not because of a Texan government's shocking change of heart, but because of something even more remarkable: one woman, Wendy Davis.
Yesterday, June 25, at 11:18 a.m., Texas State Senator Wendy Davis began a historic journey that captured the attention and respect of thousands across the globe. In an attempt to filibuster SB5, Davis spoke for 11 hours about the bill: without food, water, a restroom, or something to lean against for support.
Never mind that Senator Davis was raised by a single mother, and started working at the age of 14 to help support her mother and three siblings. Never mind that she became the first person in her family to graduate from college, doing so at the top of her class, before continuing on to one of the top law schools in the nation. Never mind that she was elected to State Senate after defeating an inveterate incumbent in one of Texas' biggest political upsets.
Never mind all that -- those achievements certainly don't hurt, but they are not what make Wendy Davis such an inspiration
Davis is an inspiration purely because she took a stand -- literally -- for what she believed in. She realized the gross intrusion SB5 placed on women's privacy, recognized her unique position in being able to take action, and committed herself to a cause she was passionate about, even when she had to stand all alone.
I began watching the live stream of the Texas Senate floor long after Davis stopped speaking, when confusion over the bill's fate was at its height. But what captured my attention wasn't the inner turmoil within Texas, but the excitement and fervor outside it. When I read live comments on the side, I saw countless people, from West Virginia to Wisconsin to Canada to Brazil -- people from a dozen different time zones and all walks of life -- all cheering Senator Davis on and professing their commitment to her cause.
In that moment, I realized that no matter what the verdict, Senator Davis had won. By standing with only pink running shoes to support her, by being punished for having her back brace adjusted, by being scrutinized critically by colleagues who hoped she would fail, Davis motivated thousands of others to stand behind her, transforming a little-covered topic into a cultural and political global phenomenon.
Regardless of gender, geography, and views on abortion, there should be little doubt in people's mind that Davis achieved something remarkable last night, singlehandedly changing the lives of thousands of women and inspiring thousands more. With affirmative action, the Civil Rights Voting Act, and DOMA all being questioned by the Supreme Court in recent weeks, it's incredible to see how other people, not just those in the Court, can take a stand on individual rights. The determination and spirit of what Senator Davis did was extraordinary, and even if the Texas government attempts to pass another bill restricting abortion, I -- and many others across the globe -- have already committed ourselves to #standwithwendy.