By JAMILA RIZVI
God damn, I love a woman who comes prepared for a political show down, wearing sensible footwear.
Democratic Senator Wendy Davis of Fort Worth in Texas is currently standing in her State’s parliament, wearing pink tennis shoes and speaking about abortion.
She has been doing so for nine hours.
We are not bringing you this news after the fact – this story is currently playing out live and women across the world are watching.
Why has Senator Davis been speaking for so long?
Because she is deeply committed to protecting the rights of women in the second most populous state in the USA to terminate a pregnancy if they wish to. She is standing up for a woman’s right to choose; a right that in Texas today, is under serious threat.
Senator Davis is engaged in a filibuster, which is a deliberate and obstructive political tactic to prevent a vote being taken in the parliament.
The tactic is usually employed by a politician who believes their side will not win if the legislation is put to a vote or, they are desperate for the other side to agree to a particular amendment.
The rules are simple – the Senator may speak for as long as they wish on a topic to prevent the vote from happening. But here’s the catch: They cannot sit down, they cannot stop speaking, they cannot stop and eat, they cannot pause – even for a minute. They cannot have a glass of water.
This means that the Senator cannot take a break to go to the bathroom, she cannot lean on anything for support. She simply has to stand and speak, and speak, and speak.
The legislation currently being debated in the Texas parliament will impose extreme restrictions on a woman’s right to choose.
If successful, the law will make it almost impossible to access abortion inducing drugs in Texas, put an outright ban abortions beyond 20 weeks gestation and will likely see the closure of dozens of abortion clinics across the state.
Senator Davis is about to enter the tenth hour of her parliamentary fight to prevent this law going to a vote – she will have to speak for around four more hours in order to be successful. Recent reports say that other Senators are organising for a back brace to be brought into the parliament for Senator Davis.
The Senator has filled her speaking time by reading out letters from countless women, medical practitioners and pro-choice campaigners who have written to her, sharing their stories. She has refused the option of taking questions from another Senator, which would allow her to pause for a glass of water or a brief moment in her chair.
This formidable woman is making this fight her own.
(Update: There are reports that Senator Davis received a warning for allowing her collegues to help her put on a back brace, but she has since been permitted to continue.)
You can follow Senator Davis’ speech live, below. Mamamia will keep you updated on any other developments, through the day.
“I’m rising on the floor today to humbly give voice to thousands of Texans who have been ignored,” Senator Davis said in the early hours of Tuesday morning, Texas time. “Partisanship and ambition is not unusual in this state Capitol, but here in Texas, right now it has risen to a level of profound irresponsibility and the raw abuse of power.”