About a year ago, I wrote that I thought the abortion debate in American politics is essentially a red herring. Now, I feel that I must add that it is a red herring with a strong sense of the absurd. To prove my point, we have the events surrounding the heroic filibuster that the amazing Wendy Davis had to pull off on Tuesday and into Wednesday in order to block the Texas GOP’s incredibly restrictive abortion bill, SB 5, from passing. Even the GOP themselves admitted that this bill would effectively outlaw abortion statewide, shutting down all but 5 of the state’s currently operating 42 clinics.
My own opinion is that when you’re dealing with people who have little capacity for critical thought, absolutely no ability to empathize with other human beings, and who may actually be the spawn of Satan, you have to have a sense of humor about the whole thing. Here, in no particular order, is a list of things that I found funniest/most horrifying about the filibuster in Texas and the surrounding abortion debate. Sometimes we laugh so we don’t cry.
- TN Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn has suggested that the real way to rid the country of rapists is to pass AZ Rep. Trent Franks’s anti-abortion bill. That’s right, folks, rape is not the result of an innocent misunderstanding or a desire for power and control or rape culture or even sociopaths, it is the result of abortion. Ask Marsha Blackburn to explain how. She won’t be able to tell you, but she’s happy to remind you about Kermit Gosnell instead. (I know this isn’t strictly speaking about Texas, but it is about the level to which the national debate has descended, and it’s a good representation of where Rick Perry and his ilk are coming from: a place of complete fucking inanity.)
- The sponsor of this bill, Rep. Jodie Laubenberg, thinks that rape kits “clean out” a woman’s uterus, thus negating the need for an abortion later. Who knew rape kits were such multitaskers (other than everyone on Twitter)? If they can do all these great things, why aren’t they national heroes instead of going untested for decades? I’d like to put forth the suggestion that maybe actually testing the rape kits would be the best way to accomplish what Marsha Blackburn has been trying to do with that anti-abortion bill and get rapists off the streets. I mean, call me crazy, but it’s an idea.
- The rules of the filibuster were something out of Catch-22. Davis had to stand without taking a break to eat, go to the bathroom, or even lean against the podium for 13 hours. She had to talk the entire time unless someone was questioning her. She had to stay on topic, and if she strayed, she could be challenged by the Republicans up to three times, and they could decide to end the filibuster after the third challenge. They did in fact do this, twice getting her on the “germaneness” of what she was discussing and once getting mad because Sen. Rodney Ellis helped her put on a back brace after she had been standing for hours.
- Sen. Leticia Van De Putte drove straight from her father’s funeral to stand with Davis, just to get ignored when she tried to speak on the senate floor. The only good thing about this is that it prompted the following quote, which is more like a battle cry: “At what point must a female senator raise her hand or her voice to be recognized over her male colleagues?” Her question would have been followed by the sound of crickets as said colleagues struggled to answer, except that all of the protesters in the chamber began cheering at the tops of their lungs.
- All of the awesome men and women who went to the capitol to protest and support Wendy Davis and her colleagues got called names, from terrorists to an unruly mob. Some got arrested. So if you disagree with Republicans in the state of Texas, don’t try to legally participate in the democratic process or anything. They will call you names and then, right in front of you, try to lie about whether their bill was voted on on time so they can win anyway. And one of the most terrible humans among them, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, will say, “It’s been fun, but see you soon.” I feel kind of sorry for him if he really considers this fun, but I’d also kind of like to punch him. I’m feeling so conflicted here.
- A story on the New York Times website reported on Wendy Davis’s stature and footwear, originally without mentioning her name for multiple paragraphs. Really, does anyone care that the lady wore pink sneakers? Or that she’s petite? This has nothing to do with anything germane to her defense of women and their health in her state. Maybe we should challenge you and make you stop talking.
- Rick Perry has predictably already called for a second special session to try again to pass this bill. Is it me, or is this guy THE WORST? (The caps mean you should shout that as you read it because it’s true, he’s THE WORST.)
I’m going to try to end on a positive note here, as have so many of the articles I’ve read that have listed the good that has already come out of this historic filibuster, not the least of which is a re-energizing of the left in Texas. So a huge thank you to all the Texas senators who helped defeat this bill: Wendy Davis, Leticia Van de Putte, Judith Zaffirini, Rodney Ellis, Carlos Uresti, Royce West, John Whitmire, Juan Hinojosa, and Kirk Watson. And no matter what happens in the end, now the country is watching, and we’ve got your back!