Wendy Davis of Texas: Why She's Our New Hero

Wendy Davis, hero. Photo: Getty ImagesIf you didn't know Wendy Davis before, you certainly know her now. She's the fierce Fort Worth, Texas, Democrat who made it her mission on Tuesday night to filibuster away the restrictive state Senate abortion bill. It would have banned abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy and placed severely crippling restrictions on the Texas's many abortion clinics, effectively closing almost every one.

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In her opening remarks, she said she was "rising on the floor today to humbly give voice to thousands of Texans," and called out Republicans for trying to pass the bill, calling their efforts a "raw abuse of power." And that's not the only reason we love her:

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She stood for 11 hours—and didn’t even take a bathroom break
. This is actually enough to make her our hero. Did she dehydrate herself for an entire day before beginning the filibuster, we wonder? (Yahoo! Shine reached out to Davis for comment on this and other even more pressing points but did not hear back from her office.)

She was not a slave to fashion. While most every report has called the sneakers she wore Tuesday night “pink,” they look pretty orange to us, which would have aligned her with the hundreds of orange-clad pro-choice activists who crowded into the Senate gallery. But whatever the color, she wore sneakers—and a back brace, to help her stand for so long, since she was not allowed to lean on anything, according to bizarre filibuster rules. She was prepared.

She went from teen mom to Harvard grad.
At 14 she worked at Orange Julius in her local mall and cared for her three siblings and single mother. By 19 she was married, pregnant and divorced, and living in a trailer park with her baby daughter. Still, she finished high school, graduated first in her class at Texas Christian University and went on to Harvard Law School.

It wasn't the first time she made Rick Perry sweat. In 2011 she successfully used the filibuster tactic in an attempt to stop $5 billion of cuts to public schools, and eventually got most of the funds replaced. That time, wrote the New York Times, the filibuster “prompted Gov. Rick Perry to send exhausted lawmakers, poised to adjourn Monday after a grueling budget battle, back into an immediate special session" — and quickly became legend.

She spent 11 hours making cogent points. Instead she said things like, “The consequence of the ambulatory surgical center rule will decrease, in a fairly dramatic fashion, the number of centers where abortions can and will be provided in Texas,” and read large chunks of testimony from women and doctors who would be impacted by the bill. When a Republican colleague tried to ask her a question that would get her off topic and end the filibuster, Davis said, “I will not yield.”

She mobilized women in Texas and far beyond. The Capitol was packed with passionate supporters, who chanted “Let her speak!” with a deafening roar when her filibuster was halted because she dared to talk about ultrasounds. For those who couldn’t be there, there was the Twitterverse, which couldn’t think about anything but #standwithwendy all night, as well as the filibuster’s live-stream on YouTube, which drew more than 100,000 simultaneous viewers. Watch the victorious moment when her crowd of supporters learn that she'd killed the bill here.

Beth Greenfield is a columnist and staff writer for Yahoo! Shine.

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