I will admit to watching very little of Senator Wendy Davis’ single-handed filibuster of SB5, a bill that would have seriously restricted access to abortion in the state of Texas. I started to watch it, fascinated by the courage and conviction of a person who would consent to standing without leaning, eating, taking bathroom breaks, or sitting for 13 hours to prove a point. I felt a certain kinship with someone who is so passionate about women’s reproductive rights that she would endure that much discomfort to represent other women in her state and protect their rights.
I had to turn away when she began debating a Republican Senator who also happens to be a doctor on the specifics of the legislation. While I didn’t disagree with her responses to him, my idealist response rose up like so much bile in my throat with each exchange. Each time he asked a question I heard my own words in my head:
Come up with all of the provisions you want. Call them what you want – safety measures, viability concerns, procedural details. I don’t care. My position remains the same: medical decisions belong in the clinic. They ought to be made between a patient and his/her caregiver(s). We don’t tell young men who haven’t fathered children that they can’t have a vasectomy. We don’t tell obese people that they ought (or ought not) to have bariatric surgery. We trust those decisions to be made on a case-by-case basis between the patient and his or her doctor. We trust that the medical professional has the patient’s best interest at heart and that they have been trained properly and that the circumstances are outside of our knowledge. I will not debate ANY abortion legislation with you under ANY circumstances. There is no condition under which I believe health care decisions ought to be made for an entire group of people at once by a legislative body. Period. Full stop.
It came down to the wire and, at times seemed as though Ms. Davis’ filibuster was all for naught, but the eruption in the gallery prevented the lawmakers from taking a vote and, for today at least, SB5 was defeated.
I woke up relieved and then saw the news on my Facebook page that the Supreme Court had done away with the Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8. While neither of these decisions is as sweeping as many marriage equality proponents would like, I feel as though today is a triumph of trust.
The defeat of SB5 means that, at least for now, the majority of women in Texas will be trusted to make their own health care decisions about whether or not to terminate a pregnancy.
The defeat of DOMA and Prop. 8 means that same-sex couples will be trusted to enter in to committed relationships that will be recognized in 13 states.
While I am certain that there is a lot of frantic activity today to mount offensive attacks on women’s rights to choose and marriage equality, for today I will revel in this news.
Hooray for those who would trust individuals to make their own decisions about their own private lives.