Editor’s Note: Texas State Sen. Wendy Davis, a Democrat, was elected to the Texas Senate in 2008 and lives in Fort Worth.
Wendy Davis says her filibuster was to get Republicans to listen to women of Texas
Davis: Enough to using Texas as a political laboratory for testing far-right ideas.
Davis: Enough to using Texas as a workshop for giving millions to corporations
She says state politicians have cut health care, education, reproductive rights to the bone
I stood up and began talking on the floor of the Texas State Senate not long ago because I hoped the Republicans in power would listen to how their latest cruel health care proposal would hurt the women of Texas.
Simply put, this bill would take away access to the most fundamental form of health care women need.
It would close down almost 90% of the women’s clinics in this state. This comes after more than 50 women’s health clinics providing cancer screening and family planning services were closed because the Republicans withdrew state-financed support from them. We now have 42. Under this draconian proposal, a state as expansive as Texas would have only five clinics remaining to serve thousands and thousands of women.
Real Texans don’t want any woman to die of cancer because she can’t get decent health care or medical advice. Real Texans don’t want any woman to lose control of her life because she can’t get birth control.
During the filibuster, women around the state related thousands of personal stories to me: One young woman said contraceptives gave her a chance to choose motherhood when she was ready. Women were helped by a clinic with the difficult and highly personal decision to end a pregnancy. Another woman said a clinic had helped comfort her when a much-wanted baby was dying inside her.
The “people’s filibuster” that put a temporary stop on the misguided bill that powerful Republicans are still intent on ramming through will long be remembered as the moment when regular Texans – real Texans – stood up and said “enough” to the self-interested politicians who have run our state for too long.
Enough to using Texas as a political laboratory for testing far-right ideas.
Enough to using Texas as a workshop for fattening the wallets of their special interest friends and supporters.
And enough of politicians listening only to each other, rather than real Texans.
There are important issues that desperately need the attention of the politicians who are – at least for now – in charge of our state.
Sadly, Gov. Rick Perry and his powerful allies don’t seem interested.
They don’t identify with the strong Texans who live in the town of West, where an unregulated, unmonitored fertilizer plant blew up, taking lives and destroying livelihoods. Because of a lack of state oversight, the small volunteer fire department that rushed to help didn’t know the degree of danger they were facing.
They paid with their lives.
Real Texans believe in looking out for each other.
We believe in honoring our mothers and fathers and keeping our smallest residents – our children – healthy. The politicians in charge of Texas now clearly don’t. Perry has refused to even consider expanding health care coverage in Texas because he cares more about scoring political points than he does about our Texas families.
Real Texans help when their neighbor is in need.
Texas Republican political leaders take perverse pride in how deeply they have cut our state’s education budget. Thousands of teachers have been pulled from classrooms, schools have closed and valuable programs have been canceled. In many places, districts are forced to choose between prekindergarten programs and English, algebra and art.
Real Texans want their kids to have the best education possible, not the one politicians looking to brag about budget cuts have left us with.
My first filibuster, two years ago, was an attempt to protect our schools and our children from these reckless cuts. Republican leaders rewarded me for my efforts by removing me from the powerful Senate Education Committee.
I had to fight unfair Republican redistricting efforts when they tried to make the district I represent disappear.
Now, Texas Democratic legislators are fighting hard to pass an equal pay for equal work bill, something that is crucial to the many families that rely on income from dad and mom.
But then real Texans have never been afraid of a good fight.
That’s what happened at our State Capitol during the filibuster, when real Texans – ultimately –decided to make their voices heard.
I have a question for Perry and the state’s powerful politicians who have ignored real Texans for so long:
Can you hear us now? And, more important, are you listening?
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The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Wendy Davis.