I Went to the Texas Capitol In Support Of Women's Rights

BlogHer Original Post

And then it started to get REALLY exciting.

Melissa Nicholson was one of the women who wrote to Senator Davis with her personal story and watched the filibuster from the gallery:

"I received a text at work that day that she was reading my testimony, and butterflies bounced around my stomach. It was so exciting she was using testimony from Texans to get through the filibuster. It was a message that she is about the people, not about Wendy Davis.”

While Nicholson says she and others silently listened to Davis’ speech, by the time the Republicans began calling the vote last Tuesday night, the crowd erupted. She describes:

“It was like a force of nature could not stop the energy as we collectively roared. We could not help it. We had been involved in more than 30 hours taken out of our lives, used extreme self-restraint for days and days and this was the question that felt like what we all wanted to express: why won't the male lawmakers view women as human beings? And, treat us with respect? Isn’t that what this bill is about? Trusting women to make choices about their own bodies, without a lawmaker intervening? And, that, is the answer. The roar continued and our excitement grew as the minutes passed. We could no longer suppress ourselves. We are women, hear us roar."

The roars of frustration, outrage, and courage became so loud that the Republicans could not hear to take their vote last Tuesday night. It was just before midnight, and the Republicans had to vote before midnight in order to pass the bill. They yelled for order - they threatened to have the gallery cleared. Finally they pushed through their vote and passed it - at 12:03. The Republicans insisted it was not midnight. They changed the time stamp from 12:03 to a time before midnight. Everyone went home disappointed. But the Democratic lawmakers pushed the issue through the night to prove that the vote was taken after midnight and the Republicans had to admit that the bill did not legally pass.

By the time the bill came up for vote a second time, last night, almost 2,000 ordinary women from across the state showed up again to give testimony on the bill. Less than 100 were allowed to speak. Austin musician Elizabeth McQueen was there. "They refused to hear debate or amendments from representatives on the committee, called a roll call vote (to move HB2 out of committee and to the house floor) while ignoring the protests of Representative Sylvester of Houston." The vote passed 8-3.

Most people realize that this bill is going to ulitmately pass both chambers of the Texas legislature. The Republicans have the votes to pass it, and the time to avoid Democratic stall tactics. Plus, they clearly do not care to hear the voices of the opponents of the bill. Our only hope is to continue fighting, and try to vote in lawmakers who will also fight the implementation of this bill. We remain positive, though, and still appreciate being a part of this exciting political process.

We are determined to continue trying to have our voices heard on this. We feel passionately that lower income women, and women in rural areas, MUST have access to life saving health care.

We do not accept a future where we do not have the right, as women, to decide what our lives look like. We insist on being able to make our reporductive decisions privately, with our familes and doctors. As Texas women, we deserve the same rights as other American women provided under the U.S. Constitution.

We will continue to fight to preserve that federal Constitutional right our mothers secured for us over 40 years ago. We will continue to send the message to the Capitol, loud and clear: Don't mess with Texas women!


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