Well, no. I had never planned to be there that day. We held the funeral service for my dad late that afternoon at Fort Sam, in San Antonio, and I was not planning on returning to Austin. My colleagues in the Senate, both Republican and Democrat, had told me that Wendy was supposed to start her filibuster and that they were just going to let her ride it out and then they would call a special session the next morning. I don’t know when that changed. But I do know that my family was gathered for supper, and my kids and grandkids had put together a photo montage of Bimple—that’s what they called my father. And about the time I was looking at that on my iPad, my chief of staff, Gilbert Loredo, who has been with me for seventeen years, came up and said, “I hate to tell you this, but they just called Senator Davis on the second point of order.” I said, “What do you mean, point of order? Isn’t she just talking?” He said, “No. They changed the plans. They’ve got two Republican senators on thirty-minute shifts, and one is watching everything she does and one is watching everything she says. They’ve decided they’re not going to let her achieve this.”
At that moment I looked up, and there’s a picture on my iPad from when I was governor for a day; I’d called out my dad, and he was standing up and blowing me kisses. And I thought of all the times that my dad stood up for me. The memories just kept coming back, of things like that he would do when I was introduced to his friends, you know, and they would say, “Oh, what a pretty little girl,” or in Spanish, “Oh, qué niña más bonita.” And my dad says, it’s the first thing out of his mouth, “She’s the smartest in her class. Es la más inteligente.” I wasn’t, but because my dad said I was, I thought I might be. And because I thought I might be, I studied a lot. And then I never had the Barbie girl figure, so I understand the little girl growing up in the fifties and the sixties who had big thighs. So what my dad taught me was that it wasn’t what I looked like, it was how smart I was and the strength that I had. My dad was so formative in those early years, when the messages to girls were very different. All that came rushing back, and I looked at Gilbert and said, “I have to go.” Then I said, “If they’ve already called the second point of order, I won’t make it.” He says, “I have DPS outside.”
I went because I thought that if Wendy saw me, she might get some strength from that, but I never intended to say anything, because I was at the bottom of an emotional well. I had nothing left. And it wasn’t just about my dad’s death—we had also lost our grandson during the session. I said what I said out of frustration. I wasn’t thinking about my political future. But it was a toxic summer. It was hurtful to see how the collegiality and the good work that we had done during the legislative session—and we did good work during the legislative session—was tossed aside.
We have to stop categorizing abortions as justified or unjustified. The best thing you can do if you support reproductive rights is to force people to realize that abortion is common, and the most common abortion is a five-to-15-minute procedure elected early in the first trimester by someone who doesn’t want to be pregnant or have a child. It’s our job to say it’s O.K. if that’s the end of the story. It’s O.K. if it’s boring or not traumatic or if you don’t even know what it was.