AUSTIN—Taking advantage of Texas gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis’s “celebration” of her filibuster one year ago against legislation limiting abortion to 20 weeks, pro-life advocates took to social media this week to celebrate the bill’s passage and the babies born since last June 25 when Davis drew wide attention for her stalling of the bill.
In a poignant illustration of the abortion debate in Texas, state Rep. Jeff Leach (R-Plano) posted Wednesday on Twitter an ultrasound image of his son with the message, “Meet my son: Landry Wilson Leach. Today he is 22 wks old and, to Wendy Davis, he has no right to life. #STAND4LIFE.”
During a special session called last June to vote on a pro-life omnibus bill, Davis, a Democratic state senator from Fort Worth, stood to filibuster for 11 hours against House Bill 2, which restricts abortion procedures and raises operational standards for abortion clinics and their doctors. She won a temporary victory that night, but eventually the bill passed in a second special session. The social media feed one year later proved a stark contrast of ideologies.
On June 22 Davis tweeted: “A year ago, you raised your voices with me. On the filibuster anniversary will you join me and raise them again?”
Davis, with the backing of Planned Parenthood and NARAL, hosted the fundraiser anticipating a rekindling of the fervor and indignation of last year’s protests in Austin challenging HB2.
The protesters were called anarchists and dubbed an “unruly mob” for effectively shutting down the legislative process moments before the first special session ended—a moniker they proudly wore this week.
Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation and daughter of the late Texas Gov. Ann Richards, tweeted: “1 yr. ago, we brought participatory democracy to the #txlege. Proud to be back for the unruly mob reunion! #womenwinTX.”
Richards attended the party and co-hosted with Davis an online forum earlier in the day. According to media reports, about 1,600 people turned out for the evening event at Parmer Events Center in Austin. Tickets for the anniversary celebration were as high as $1,000 with general admission tickets going for $20. But days before the event, a “limited number” of free tickets were made available to the general public.
Republican state Sen. Glenn Hegar, who sponsored the Senate version of the House legislation, tweeted June 25: “Wendy Davis & Democrats will celebrate the anniversary of her stand against life. RETWEET if you #Stand4Life.”
In a video clip from the Wendy Davis event, an unidentified woman even gave an opening prayer.
“Let’s ask God to bless our celebration. Will you pray with me? God, you are our father, and our mother… So now, we ask you to strengthen our resolve and our determination, to change the government of the state of Texas, with our votes for the Democratic nominees. … And bless this celebration tonight.”
In a telephone interview with the TEXAN, Michelle Smith of Concerned Women for America—Texas, said Davis’ fundraiser was celebrating a filibuster “for late-term abortion—the right to kill their babies up to 40 weeks.”
Kyleen Wright, president of Texans for Life Coalition, called the Austin party nothing more than a Democratic fundraiser, an effort to “generate some buzz” on the eve of the Democrat state convention this weekend in Dallas.
Wright said Davis, ironically, has refused to use the term “abortion” when criticizing legislation limiting women’s access to “health care.” That does not sit well with her pro-choice allies, who expect the Democrat candidate to be “loud and proud” about her abortion views, Wright said.
Davis trails Republican gubernatorial candidate Gregg Abbott by double digits going into the Nov. 4 election. Abbott took the occasion of the filibuster anniversary to release a new campaign ad featuring a woman who survived an abortion to highlight his pro-life stance.