“Something special is happening in Austin tonight,” @BarackObama tweeted late Tuesday, with the hashtag #StandWithWendy. That is Wendy Davis, a Texas state senator who, at that point, had been standing on the floor of the legislature for more than nine hours—talking about women’s bodies, their health, their lives—and would stand for about four more before Republicans, amid shouting and with brazenly dubious parliamentary tactics, forced an end to her filibuster. By then, though, she had won both a temporary and a long-term victory: a bill that would have left only five abortion clinics in the two hundred and sixty thousand square miles of Texas failed, even though Republicans first tried to pretend that it hadn’t. They’ll get another chance. But Davis reminded everyone that despite the steady dismantling of abortion rights in state legislatures, it’s possible to fight back. People might yell at you on the floor and for you from the rafters, and you might, if only for the moment, win.
Davis had started her filibuster at about 11 A.M. The anti-abortion-rights bill would have banned the procedure after twenty weeks and placed conditions on clinics—for equipment, for admitting privileges for doctors at hospitals within thirty miles—that would have made it impossible for them to stay open. The best guess, looking at a map, was that some women in Texas would end up driving over the Mexican border, and others might end up in some back room. But the bill had to pass by midnight, when the session ended. And so Davis set out to talk until the next day.