Former state Sen. Wendy Davis couldn’t fight back the tears.
She was too happy when she learned Monday morning that the Supreme Court overturned the controversial abortion law she filibustered against in Texas three years ago.
“I immediately burst into tears,” Davis, now an Austin Democratic activist, told the Star-Telegram in a phone interview Monday. “It felt like such a relief, such a happy relief, because there was so much as stake.”
Davis drew national attention to the fight against the abortion bill when she stood and spoke for more than 11 hours June 25, 2013, on the Texas Senate floor.
At issue was a measure creating some of the country’s most restrictive abortion regulations — such as requiring clinics to employ providers with admitting privileges at hospitals and ensuring facilities meet standards of surgical centers.
As Davis spoke, thousands of people on both sides of the issue jammed into the Texas Capitol, trying to hear her or express their opinion on the issue.
That night, as the Senate tried to vote on the proposal, people in the gallery made so much noise that senators couldn’t hear one another and the disruption prevented the chamber from passing the measure as the regular legislative session ended.
Then-Lt. Gov. Davis Dewhurst called it an “unruly mob.”
The bill was quickly approved a few weeks later, after the Republican-led Legislature was called back for another special session.
“To me, this speaks to the power of what it means to fight, even in the face of long odds,” said Davis, who represented Fort Worth at the time of the filibuster. “That day (of the filibuster) became what it became because of the thousands of people who made an effort to stand up and fight.
“Even though we lost in the couple of weeks that followed, that was the battle,” she said. “We’ve won the war now.”
Before the court’s ruling was issued Monday, Davis, who unsuccessfully ran to become Texas’ governor in 2014, had tweeted that she was nervous about the ruling.
“I’d filibuster again if I could,” she tweeted.
On Monday, Davis, a former Fort Worth city councilwoman, tweeted: “Today made that day 3 yrs ago all worth it! So grateful 2 all the women who shared their stories.”
Now, she said, clinic providers will begin the process of reopening clinics that have closed.
“I hope the lesson that people take from this is that it is important for us to come together and fight for what’s right,” she said, “and not be discouraged when we have temporary setbacks.”