Feminism: Filibuster Retrospective (Part 2)

Previous Post: Filibuster Retrospective Part 1

This is a continuation of the filibuster retrospective post I started here. I was forced to break the post up into multiple postings because of the huge number of tweets involved (which was making the page LOAD-ANGRY on some browsers). I started that filibuster retrospective on Wednesday. It's now Sunday as I write this. A couple of things have happened since then.

One. Governor Rick Perry has already called another special session, and will probably succeed in pushing the bill through. This is a really terrible thing because women will die if this bill is passed. But at the same time, I've said myself and seen other women say that if this bill is fated to pass (for usages of "fate" which does not disappear the grody terrible people choosing to make it pass), then it is a very slight, very cold, but nevertheless present comfort that it's being done so soon after the Epic Filibuster and so soon after the Republicans very clearly tried to cheat to win. It won't mean even a single person of uteri is in less danger, but it does at least help just a tiny bit for us to all know that we're in this together.

We may have our rights taken away, but we WILL NOT BE GASLIGHTED about it, is what I am saying.

Two. There is a possibility that citizen testimony will be allowed again in the special session. Depending on how that goes down, Silver Adept has suggested that a "citizens' filibuster" might could occur. Smarter heads than mine are looking into that, but either way if they accept citizen testimony on this thing, I may be driving down to Austin, depending on health and finances. We'll see, stay tuned, etc.

Tweets after the jump.

At three pm, I had to get two teeth filled at the dentist. I have never been in such a rush in my life. Some of you might remember from my surgical chronicles that I need 2x or 3x or 4x the amount of pain medication than most people because my pain receptors are screwed up? Yeah, that was not going to happen on this day. I told the dentist to do the minimum anesthetic he felt comfortable with and to do it fast, ha. And then I was out of there like a shot. (I'm pretty sure they now think I'm phobic of dental work, but OH WELL.) By the time I got back, Senator Davis wasn't reading testimony anymore; she was taking questions from both allies and antagonists.

The thing with Senator Davis taking questions is that while the question session gave her a chance to rest her voice (since she didn't have to speak while the person asking the questions did), not all the questions came from allied senators. When I got back from the dentist, Davis was taking questions from Senator Bob Deuell, who -- and I base this impression entirely on his stated questions with a side-salad derived from his apparent attitude towards both Wendy Davis and the Texans she was representing -- appeared to be a horrible garbage monster of a human being. And though I cannot speak for Wendy Davis, I myself would be more comfortable reading personal testimonies all day than trying to carry on a conversation with this person.

To paraphrase in advance, Deuell (whose biography claims he practices as a "family physician") largely disregarded the testimony read by Senator Davis, claiming that women "aren't experts" of their lived experiences, with the implication that male senators and male doctors are experts that women need to defer to. He also stated that a huge number of abortions occur in the third term of pregnancy (they don't) and for no real health or medical reason -- rather, women just waltz into abortion clinics because they are tired of being pregnant, and abortion providers humor them because blah blah make-believe-conservative-silliness blah.

Pro-tip: If Bob Deuell is your family physician, I suggest trying to find an alternative provider, if possible. And I extend you my most sincere sympathies. 

Senator Deuell also implied that these late-term abortions happen by mistake because pregnant people and abortion providers can't tell when a pregnancy started and therefore can't tell if they're in the twelfth week or thirtieth. (Math is hard!) Like a lot of pro-choice myths, this has a grain of truth wrapped in a turd of blatant lies: it's not difficult to date a pregnancy when you use the current medically accepted methods of dating them (which is why people like Bob Deuell are trying to change that!).

Most medical providers use two dates during a pregnancy, one based on known events and one based on statistics. The first system is called the "gestational age", and it is based on the known first day of the last menstrual period of the pregnant person. This method works very well in part because menstrual periods are accompanied by obvious external signs that most people can accurately note at the time and recall after the fact. The second system is called the "fetal age", which is usually derived by taking the gestational age an subtracting an estimated two weeks, which is meant to represent the time between menstrual period and ovulation.

The thing is, not all people with uteri ovulate a precise two weeks after their period, which means that the "conception date" that pro-lifers like Deuell like to invoke is impossible to know. It can be guessed, but not known with perfect accuracy. Which is, of course, a feature for pro-lifers who seek to control others' bodies: since the SB5 bill mandates that the 20-week ban must be measured from the unknown-and-unknowable "conception date" rather than from the medically-accepted dating systems based on menstruation and statistics, the bill would be effectively instituting an 18-week ban, since abortion providers would be forced to err on the side of extreme caution rather than risk being hauled up on criminal charges that no one can defend against.

So just to be clear: Pro-lifers are trying to change how we measure pregnancy dates in order to make it impossible to measure pregnancy lengths. Because that will help to force people of uteri to stay pregnant against their wishes.

After Deuell sat down, Senator Lucio stood to ask questions of Wendy Davis. And this was very upsetting for me personally, and it wouldn't surprise me if it were upsetting for Senator Davis. Because Lucio is a fellow Democrat and described himself as a close friend of Davis in ways which she later affirmed to be true for herself as well. But Lucio is a "pro-life Democrat" and a supporter of the bill, which meant that he was willing to use his personal relationship with Senator Davis to undermine what she was doing on the floor -- he asked that she step down and allow him (and the other men there) to assert their sovereign will over the bodies of Texas women and people with uteri.

Not in those words, of course. But a point I want to keep making to a lot of the men on the floor that day is that civil words mean nothing when they are a cloak for actions that are truly hostile regardless of personal animus. Asking women to be chattel owned by the state is NOT polite, no matter what words you use to dress it up.

What was especially upsetting for me was that "pro-life" Lucio invoked the usage of all the infertile people of Texas -- people who might otherwise adopt if there were an infinite supply of babies to adopt -- as his reasoning for why it was acceptable and appropriate for him to deny people the right to chose. I want to make this very clear: I am an infertile woman in the state of Texas who would like a child. I do not consent to be appropriated in order to control others. When people, especially men, appropriate me in order to try to control others, I get very rage-makey is what I am saying. And it just reinforces to me (again!) that this isn't about compassion, no matter how personally compassionate that person may think hirself to be. Because true compassion is inconsistent with just assuming that you know what other people need (rather than listening to the many testimonies Senator Davis read from self-identified infertile women), and true compassion is incompatible with controlling some women in order to benefit other women.

So let me summarize Senator Lucio's speech in advance:

One, his "heart hurts" when he hears about rape and incest, but he still doesn't support a woman's right to abortion in those cases because infertile women need those babies! INFERTILE WOMEN SUPPORT RAPE AND INCEST! (SPOILER: NO WE FUCKING DO NOT.)

Two, lots of baybees have been aborted so clearly we have a "culture of death" because if you laid all those aborted babies end-to-end they would pretty much fill Texas and probably wouldn't all die of lack of resources the next day. (SPOILER: THEY TOTES WOULD.)

Three, all those hypothetical aborted babies could have growed up to send letters to Wendy Davis too, just like the non-aborted women who sent her letters and therefore since they weren't aborted their mothers must have been anti-choice because pro-choice people only have abortions and never have babies. (SPOILER: HA HA HA NO.)

Four, Senator Lucio "loves women" and therefore could not possibly be motivated to control them because of misogyny because obviously being heterosexual is EXACTLY THE SAME THING as being a feminist ally. (SPOILER: FUCK THIS NOISE.)

Five, blah blah Bibles on iPads fart. (SPOILER: WHAT IS THIS I DON'T EVEN.)

After the "question period" with Senator Lucio, which was really just him speechifying at Davis (and note that her Democratic allies were not allowed to do any such thing, only her opponents), Davis returned to the last of the citizen testimonies and some of the supporter stories which had been sent to her. She noted that she was running out of supporter stories, and we need to speak to that for the moment.

Davis had, to my understanding, fully eleventy beiberbillion supporter stories sent in to her account. (Including mine!) But she had to be very careful which ones she read -- or rather, since she wasn't able to read these beforehand due to the limitations of the filibuster, her staff had to be very careful about what they filtered through to her computer screen on the floor. The reason for this filtering (and the associated apparent dearth of available stories) was because the supporter stories had NOT been deemed "automatically on-topic" in the way that the scheduled-for-the-previous-Senate-session citizen testimonies had been.

The filibuster rules (as laid down and/or clarified by Dewhurst at the beginning; I'm unclear how much leeway he had on the rules) stated that if Davis was ruled to be speaking "off-topic" three times, then the senators could vote on whether to shut down her filibuster or not. So Davis had to be very careful to stay narrowly "on-topic", which meant that only a fraction of the supporter stories were safe to read on the floor. And even then, later in the filibuster she was threatened from returning to the stories for her final running stretch. (More on that later.)

And then there was this lovely rumor which was already circulating even before the filibuster ended: the suggestion that Senator Wendy Davis was "only" going through this hell because it was a sound political move for her career, because we all know how the voters eat it up when strong-willed women stand up to the men, AMIRIGHT?

So now is as good a time to point out what Liss at Shakesville has already noted with regards to Senator Wendy Davis:
Do you remember in March of last year when I wrote about a Texas State Senator whose office was firebombed? That was Wendy Davis.

At the time, she said: "It's a sad but true fact of public service that we have to feel concerned sometimes for our personal safety. But we can't let that stop us."

She knows exactly what she's risking. And she stood the fuck up there for 13 hours and did it anyway.



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