Wendy Davis Inspires Young Women To Fight For Reproductive Rights

by Alex Gladu

It has been almost four years since Wendy Davis filibustered the Texas Senate in an attempt to block an anti-abortion bill from passing. The bill ultimately passed, but Davis' passions for reproductive rights and advocacy have not dimmed one bit since that day in June of 2013. Although she is no longer a state senator, Wendy Davis continues to define her brand of feminism with a focus on reproductive rights. Now, though, she's also helping others join her.

"My brand of feminism says you must support reproductive rights in order to fully embrace and stand behind the advancement of women," Davis told Bustle on Tuesday. The former Texas state senator from Fort Worth sat with Bustle's Emily Shire for a Facebook Live video, where she was asked if feminism required support for women's reproductive rights.

"Feminism, I think, can be defined in many different ways, and in some ways, it’s a very subjective label," she said. "My version of feminism believes that if women cannot control our reproductive destinies, then we cannot control our economic opportunity."

Back in 2013, Davis fought for that economic opportunity by standing on the floor of the Texas Senate for nearly 13 hours. She filibustered a bill that sought to make abortions harder to obtain, by banning abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, requiring that doctors performing abortions have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital, and mandating certain standards for abortion clinics.

Davis left the Texas Senate in 2015, and she later lost a bid for the job of Texas governor, but that's not where her story of advocacy ends. Davis told Bustle that she hopes to run for public office again someday, but in the meantime, she is busy helping young women find their own stories of advocacy. Last year, Davis launched Deeds Not Words, an online engagement initiative that seeks to provide young female activists with the tools they need to take action.

Each Friday, Deeds Not Words circulates an e-newsletter called The Deeds Digest. Billed as a "weekly letter from Davis," the e-newsletter offers ways that readers can get involved in Davis' advocacy. Deeds Not Words campaigns for equal pay, reproductive rights, family leave, and other policies that serve women.

As for her own political career, Davis remains hopeful for the status of women in politics in general. She was a strong supporter of Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, hitting the road to campaign on the former first lady's behalf. When asked to predict who would become the country's first female president, Davis jumped first to Clinton's name. "And if not her, I think we've got some other great women in the U.S. senate, we've got some extraordinary governors who are women in this country, and each of them has an opportunity, I think, to try and make sure that they break that final glass ceiling," she said. Who knows, it could even be one of the women who are inspired by Davis' own campaign.