Thank God for Rowdy Women
Hundreds of women (and some men) filled the senate chamber and the Capitol rotunda, stairs, and halls. Some of them were legal activists, like my friend Andrea March. Some were clergy, like Jim Rigby. Together, all of them showed the state—hell, the world—that women in Texas were not going to be railroaded or bamboozled. When one party tried to push through legislation that would have harmed many Texans, they shouted it down. They offered a bodily response to this attempt to deprive their bodies of options. Like most of those in the media or observing on Facebook, Twitter, on YouTube, this was something we had never heard; like my friend Owen Egerton wrote, it was like Texas life as Les Miserables, "the song of angry women."
Of course, in the midst of all this—at the Capitol, online, in the comments feed on YouTube, on my FB page—there was the inevitable and ongoing debate about the morality of abortion. I'm a Christian who believes abortion should be rare and legal, and that it should never be considered lightly. Other Christians believe abortion is always wrong, always sinful, no matter what the circumstances. I believe we can lovingly disagree—and both agree to work to make abortion rare.
Mother and theologian Julie Goss Clawson helped me wrestle with things this morning. She posted on Facebook:
Fact—I hate abortion, wish it never had to happen. Also fact—unless the systems of the state/the church/etc. become actually pro-life and not just pro-birth, it is a necessary ill. So I applaud that the citizens of this state effectively influenced the legislative process in whatever way they could to protect what is sadly the only option for many women in a system that punishes the poor, restricts health care, and educates only the rich well. Banning abortion solves nothing. Fixing the system to reduce the need for it to ever be an option will.
Molly Ivins used to quote a piece of Texas wisdom: "Texas is hell on horses and women."
And so it is, and will continue to be. Our Governor, the estimable Rick Perry, has already called a second special legislative session to reconsider the abortion bill. But last Tuesday was an amazing moment, a milestone in the history of Texas. The People's Filibuster was a victory for the poor and rural women of this poor and far-flung state. A victory for the law. A victory for women's health. And a victory for rowdy women everywhere who know their rights, who refuse to be silenced, and who give young women like Lily and Sophie the role models they need to grow up to be rowdy women too.
Greg Garrett is the author of works of fiction, criticism, and theology, including Faithful Citizenship from Patheos Press. He is Professor of English at Baylor University, and a licensed lay preacher in the Episcopal Church.