28 Jun 2013--Hallie, Donna and I had a heck of a couple days up at the State Capitol in Austin, joining an old fashioned protest...and frankly, we had the time of our lives! haha
We started out on Sunday heading to the Capitol and got there about noon time to watch the House of Representatives debate a bill that would end up closing 37 of the 42 Women's Health Centers that provide abortions, among other health care services. They would also cut back on the time frame in which it would still be legal to get an abortion. I am not going to debate the issue here, everyone has their own opinion and feelings, just thought I would share some pictures seeing that if you saw the national news at all this week you probably saw something on this subject.
Everyone was raring to go with signs, buttons and the like.
Two women on opposite sides of the issue. The crowds were split between those basically wearing orange, who were pro choice, and the ones wearing blue, pro life. The one with the blue shirt is actually pro choice, just wore the wrong color that day! haha
We waited outside the House gallery doors for at least an hour and a half, waiting for them to open. I only post this 3rd picture to show you a lady who cut in behind us because she thought she was better than everyone else and didn't have to wait. Donna actually said something to her about it, but she just ignored Donna...so Donna ended up telling her that there was a special place in hell for people like her!!!! haha Hallie got a little nervous at this point that we might get arrested, so she tried to calm the situation down.
The "blue" people...so what's with the "Barbara Bush pearls"? You really wouldn't believe how many of them had pearls on.
Needless to say, the overwhelming majority of the people discussing women's health issues were men...ugh!!!!
But we did have some hero and villain women, so this is them. 1st pic shows Representative Farrar, who got a standing ovation (against the rules) because on Thursday, during a committee meeting, she took the main sponsor of the bill to task and made her look like an idiot. The 2nd and 3rd pics show Rep. Thompson, waiving and then hanging from the microphone a hanger that she said was what was in store for women if this bill passed.
Then in the 1st pic we have Rep Laubenberg, the Pro Life sponsor of the bill who in all honesty was a complete buffoon. If I was on that side I would never want her representing me...let me give you an example of why:
The lady in the center of the 3rd pic is Dawnna Dukes, who is a Rep from the east side of Austin. Now Dukes looks like she would just as soon kick your butt as to speak to you, and she asked Laubenberg why there was no exception in her bill for rape or incest victims. Laubenberg said, "Well, we raised funding for emergency rooms at hospitals. And in the emergency rooms they have these things they call rape kits, and they basically use these rape kits to like 'clean the women out' I guess."!!!!! It was a jaw-droppingly stupid statement to make, and she actually repeated it at Dukes' urging. How embarrassing, on so many levels. Who in the name of God ever voted for someone so stupid to begin with??? She actually believed what she said and had no idea that those kits are actually used for evidence collection! Incredible!!! (Then look at the lady in the 2nd pic with the glasses on...do you think she is all there?--haha)
So, we were there till 10 o'clock Sunday night but had to leave before the final vote was taken...the Republicans passed the bill and sent it to the Senate.
On Tuesday, about 10 AM or so, Hallie and I headed up to Austin again to see the Senate side of things. Donna was working, and works in Austin, so she joined us in the gallery about 4 o'clock that afternoon. This is Senator Wendy Davis, the woman you probably saw on the news, who was holding a filibuster that she started at about 11 AM...she had to talk, all by herself, until midnight to close out the special session of legislature and kill the bill. The crowds were good early, but grew steadily throughout the day and into the evening, ending up with between 2000-3000 people in and around the building.
I had to take a bathroom break and ran into this male Representative in the elevator. Can't remember his name but took his picture because I knew Hallie and Donna would know him and disliked him too. Very Pompous! In the 2nd pic is Rep Farrar, one of the stars from Sunday, who along with Rep Thompson and Cecile Richards were walking the halls and thanking people for coming out to support them. If you don't know, Cecile Richards, the blond, is the head of Planned Parenthood and the daughter of former Texas Governor Ann Richards.
Quite a few of the House members stand outside the senate floor railing and watch as Senator Wendy Davis continues her filibuster. The Republicans said she broke the rules 3 times and tried to shut her down so they could vote before midnight and pass their bill. During an objection other Democrats talk with Wendy, and the crowd grows a little restless.
To give you an idea of the rules: The person speaking cannot sit, eat, drink, or walk beyond 3 ft of her desk. She cannot go the bathroom (I heard on the news she had a catheter--haha) or get any assistance from any other senator. She can't even lean against her desk. It is really a marathon of speaking, and she has to remain "on topic"...can't just read the telephone book or anything like that.
Building to a crescendo, a Republican objects and says that Wendy created her 3rd violation by going off topic. (Her 1st violation was when she was relating this bill to the Roe v. Wade decision that they said was off topic (?), 2nd violation was ruled when another senator tried to help put a brace on her back, and the 3rd violation was when she talked about an abortion bill that they passed last year that they said she was AGAIN off topic on...incredible). The crowd gets a little more agitated and some people are told to leave and are escorted out by the police.
And then all hell breaks loose!!! It was at 11:45 PM, just 15 minutes to go, when a woman senator, after continuously raising her hand and being ignored, finally said "At what point must a female senator raise her hand or her voice to be recognized over the male colleagues in the room?" The crowd goes wild, and to the everlasting chagrin of the Republicans, they continue to get louder and louder...for over the 15 minutes left to midnight, and they lose!!!!
Also part of the rules is that the spectators can't speak or make any noise in the gallery or they will be removed. Well, with 500 people in there, and more than 400 of those on the pro choice side, the yelling and screaming was deafening, and they couldn't get everyone out in time to take the vote. Wendy and her senate colleagues are raising 2 fingers which actually signals a NO vote, and the crowd mimics them and yells "let her speak", etc.
Here I am, right before the cop escorted me outside the gallery, about 3 minutes to midnight!!! What fun!!! (Needless to say, I went peacefully!!! Didn't want to get dragged out, or worse yet, arrested. The cop that escorted me was actually very nice...I think with all my wrinkles and thinning hair he thought I was really, really old, so he was very respectful! hahaha)
Wendy giving the "V" sign and a girl next to me is screaming like a banshee...the noise was really earsplitting.
I am already outside the gallery here, and you can see they have called in reinforcements as the police enter the chamber. The crowds outside the chamber are even bigger and louder than inside. Hallie and Donna are at this point somewhere in these crowds...they had left the gallery earlier and couldn't get back in because the crowds were so large. So they saw everything on closed circuit tv and were in this mix later.
And here I am on the CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley on Wednesday night...Chris called me and said he saw me, so I watched on a California station later...you have to turn the volume all the way up to hear the report, but at about the 18-20 second point of the video you can see me in the gallery (twice), 1st taking a picture and then raising my arms and voice in protest of them shutting Wendy down with bogus violation rulings!!!
So we were either "democracy in action", or "an unruly mob", depending on your point of view--haha. But the special session called by the governor had expired and at least for a short period of time my side won. The governor has just called another special session, to start Monday, so they will eventually create enough rules and roadblocks to push their bill through, but we won Tuesday and had a blast to boot!!! You just gotta love this country!!!