Abortion rights activists celebrate SCOTUS decision on Whole Women’s Health with Wendy Davis

Sarah Philips

Abortion rights activists and supporters gathered with Wendy Davis, former gubernatorial candidate and Texas state senator, on Thursday for Rejoice for Choice, a night of live music, drinks and voter registration. 

Davis famously filibustered in the Texas Senate for 11 hours in 2013 in protest of a bill requiring doctors who provided abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital and for health care centers providing abortions to be outfitted as surgical centers. 

The bill eventually passed in a special session called by former Texas governor Rick Perry, but it was reversed and remanded by the Supreme Court in a 5–3 decision in June. 

Abortion rights supporters celebrated with Davis at Jo’s Coffee. 

“I was really excited about the people who came. [There were] a lot of folks who were at the Capitol three years ago and were part of the People’s Filibuster,” Davis said. “But there were also young women here tonight who are newly coming into their understanding of the role they can play, not just in fighting for reproductive freedom, but for all their values.”

Davis recently spoke at the Texas Tribune Festival about women in Texas. She said Texas women have to take the opportunity to educate each other about issues.

“We need to make sure that we educate each other about what’s happening in this state,” Davis said. “Even with all the attention that was given to the filibuster, a vast majority of Texans did not know that women’s rights had been constrained in that way.”

Jane Claire Hervey, founder of Boss Babes ATX and a UT alumna, also attended the event. Boss Babes ATX, an organization focused on community organizing for women, was tabling and registering attendees to vote at the event. 

“The point of the event was mainly to get people out to rally and register to vote,” Hervey said. “We got to really talk about what it means to be a person and have political values and have an investment in your community and want to see things change.”

Hervey said this particular presidential election has been hard for voters, including herself.

“I think this election has been really rough on people,” Hervey said. “It’s been very disenchanting, and a lot of people, myself included, might feel a little hopeless. But I think it’s things like this where you can see familiar faces and remind yourself that you can still vote and we still have a lot to do. This is not the last election on earth.”

Volunteer deputy registrar Keisha Gillis was asked to register attendees to vote by Boss Babes ATX. Gillis said she and other registrars were able to register 30 new voters.

“Boss Babes asked me to come sit at their table and help out,” Gillis said. “Every vote counts, and I love to be able to volunteer and give back. We had Wendy Davis speak and live music. It was a great crowd and great vibes.” 

Davis is currently campaigning for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. At the Texas Tribune Festival, she hinted at a possible run for a statewide senatorial position if voter turnout was high during this election, but she has not officially confirmed this.