Was it moral to shut down the Texas Senate?
Last week’s week’s filibuster in the Texas Senate stopped an abortion bill and catapulted Sen. Wendy Davis to national political attention. Television stories beamed pictures of hundreds of cheering, jeering protesters who shut down Senate business while Republican leaders struggled to regain control. In the end, the bill that would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy failed and Gov. Rick Perry called the Legislature back into another special session on Monday.
The protesters – criticized as a mob by some and hailed as heroes by others – were very much a part of the story, if only because it’s rare democratic institutions in this country are brought to a halt by people chanting from the balcony in a legislative chamber. The episode has been the focus of heated debate in terms of politics and ideology. Set aside which side you’re on. What if the roles were reversed. When is it ethical and moral to shut down a institution of government?
The question: Was it moral to shut down the Senate? Not whether it was politically successful or tactically expedient or even whether your side prevailed or not, but was it moral?
By Wayne Slater
AMY MARTIN, Director Emeritus of Earth Rhythms and Writer/editor Moonlady News Newsletter
So the Republicans who tried to alter the time stamp on the vote are complaining that the actions of the rotunda public were immoral? Really? This is why people hate politics. That the “unruly mob” politely adhered to Capitol rules for nearly 12 hours until that last half hour when procedural rules were trampled, dirty tricks were played, and senators who protested the actions were ignored. That was enough to break down decorum, leaving the rotunda crowd no option except what democracy grants them: their right to protest.
Imagine this: She’d been sexually abused, even raped, the sanctity of her body ripped from her by force. She’d been shown that the right to control her body did not belong to her, but to those with the power to take it at will. I was that woman and I am that woman still. Judging by the rotunda that night, there are thousands of us. And we are mad. Our bodies once again seized and violated against our will by men.
I am not an abortion-on-demand proponent. The procedure is misused. Regulations should be focused on preventing those who use abortion as birth control and term limits are understandable. But I also do not believe that politicians have the right to control my body. If I have to yell loudly to get the government out of my uterus, I will. Call me uppity.
And let’s be honest. The bill was not about banning abortions after 20 weeks. Had that been the sole focus, it would have easily passed. The bill was aimed at placing punitive restrictions on abortion providers that other similar day-surgery enterprises are not subjected to, effectively shutting down all but five clinics. Vasectomies have the same rate of complications. Where are those clinics’ regulations?
If the sanctity of life honestly concerned these grandstanding abortion opponents, then before anyone in Texas could buy or sell a gun they’d be required to watch real (not Hollywood) videos of people dying from gun violence and have doctors on call at hospitals whose emergency rooms are burdened with victims of gun violence. Nor would they have been trumpeting their pleasure with our state’s 500th execution that same day. It’s hard to respect that kind of hypocrisy.