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Friday, December 9, 2016

A few years ago, during consideration of a bill being pushed by a Republican elder in the Texas Senate, first-term Sen. Wendy Davis asked him a question about it. Rather than respond to this Democrat, this woman, the old bull replied dismissively, “I have trouble hearing women’s voices.”

No more. Even a stone-deaf old bull would’ve been jerked to attention by the clarity of Davis’ voice on June 25. Starting at 11:18 a.m., she literally stood tall for more than 11 grueling hours, filibustering a mean and demeaning attempt by extremist Republican leaders to put the state government in charge of the most personal right women have: controlling decisions about their own bodies.

Davis’ principled stand — in Texas, no less — rallied over 2,000 mothers, grandmothers, girls and others to come to the capitol from all over the state, packing the gallery in quiet witness. Quiet until 10:04 p.m., that is, when GOP leaders tried to silence her by unilaterally ruling her filibuster over.

Suddenly, the ruling Solons were startled by a high-decibel reprimand from their subjects — the gallery erupted in citizen outrage, causing chaos on the floor. Then, when the “leaders” tried to force a vote, the “followers” took charge, with jeers so loud that senators couldn’t hear themselves. With the session set to expire at midnight, panicky leaders tried to push the clock back, which led to deafening chants of “shame, shame, shame,” ultimately blocking the GOP’s brutish ploy.

Texas Republicans have already re-rigged the rules so they can get their way on another day, but they can’t escape the huge significance of this defeat. As Davis rightfully noted, while she was the one standing on the floor, “it was the ‘people’s filibuster’ that stopped (the bill)” and awakened a new movement in Texas that won’t be stopped.

Texas has long experience with animalistic approach to public policy. In 2007, a local school superintendent rejected any need for sex education classes in his district. Noting that many students there live on farms, he said, “They get a pretty good sex education from their animals.”

Guess which state is No. 1 in teen pregnancies? Yes, Texas.