Former Texas State Senator Wendy Davis made history almost 3 years ago when she filibustered against HB 2, a controversial law that put medical restrictions on the state’s abortion providers, which the Supreme Court has struck down. Though the law was passed, Davis continued to fight back, speaking out against anti-abortion rights legislation and unsuccessfully running for governor of Texas in 2014. In 2016, Davis launched a nonprofit called Deeds Not Words, which aims to help women lobby for the changes they want.
Speaking to Motto, Davis said she was “overwhelmed, in a very good way” by the ruling this morning. “Starting that day in the Texas capital with the women who so bravely shared their stories, to the ‘unruly mob’ in the gallery who kept us going past midnight, to organizations like Planned Parenthood and the Center for Reproductive Rights and the Texas Policy Evaluation Project…This has been a tremendous effort costing energy and money, and today is a vindication for everyone involved.”
Motto spoke with Davis after the ruling.
Motto: What does this verdict mean for women?
Wendy Davis: It means that women will once again be supported in accessing their Constitutionally-protected right to safe and legal abortion in this country. And it signals a real setback for attempts to constrain that right. The opinion was decisive in pushing back against the ridiculous arguments that had been made by proponents of this law who argued disingenuously that this law would make women safer. The court saw right through that sham argument and saw that at its core, this law was designed to constrain access to abortion and made women much less safe.
What do you think is the next battleground for pro-abortion rights activists?
We still need to repeal the Hyde Amendment [A provision that prevents the use of federal funds to pay for abortions except in cases of rape, incest or risk to mother]. Our Constitutional rights were never intended to protect us based on the amount of money we have in the bank. … There’s a very proactive effort to repeal that amendment, although we have huge hurdles due to the makeup of the Senate and the House. But hopefully through the next election that may change.
What other obstacles do women still face in obtaining legal abortions?
There’s going to have to be work done to unwind similar laws in states. Other states have passed admitting privilege provisions like Ohio, Wisconsin and Louisiana. There’s going to be a great deal of work ahead making sure that each of those states adhere to the Supreme Court’s decision. It’s also going to take time to reopen clinics that have closed and find resources in order to make that happen.
How do you think this upcoming presidential election will affect women’s rights in this country?
The stakes are so high. This is a pivotal election for women’s rights. We could not have two more distinctly different sets of ideas and ideals when it comes to women’s rights between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.
I’ve said many times while on the campaign trail [for Clinton] that we’ve had friends in White House before, but we’ve never had a champion. She’s made it a huge part of her platform aggressively working to close gender gap, working for equal pay, family leave policies, affordable quality childcare so more women improve their educational experiences and can participate in the workforce, and of course to maintain and protect reproductive freedoms. Trump has certainly worn his misogyny on his sleeve. He’s no friend to women, like saying he’d ‘punish’ women for abortions. He’d be taking women backward, not forward.
This interview has been edited and condensed.