The abortion debate is a Gordian knot wrapped in a koan stuck in an inescapable quagmire. It's not, in other words, a matter that can be settled through dialogue, reasoned or otherwise, as the Texas Legislature has so amply proved over the past month.
That hasn't stopped people from trying. In some cases, this has taken the form of a principled defense of firmly held beliefs. In others, the things that emerge from people's mouths and brains are, in a word, absurd.
And so, as the Texas Senate prepares to send sweeping abortion restrictions to Governor Rick Perry's desk, here in roughly chronological order are the 10 dumbest moments in the legislative debate. By no means is this a comprehensive list. Feel free to correct any omissions in the comments.
Magical Rape Kits
This probably should have been the abortion bill's Todd Akin moment that ended its chances once and for all. That its author, Representative Jodie Laubenberg, can demonstrate such a fundamental ignorance of reproductive healthcare while claiming to be defending women's health is pretty astounding. We won't even delve into that time six years ago when she made the teensy-bit hypocritical claim that fetuses aren't, in fact, people, at least for the purpose of doling out state health benefits.
For Senator Wendy Davis, the pink Mizunos were no doubt a pragmatic choice. Hard to stand for a day-long filibuster without comfortable feet. But then the Internet got a hold of the pink kicks and showered the shoe's Amazon page with clever reviews, transformed them into Internet meme art, and generally convinced liberals to buy the crap out of them. Because democracy.
Wendy Davis' Back Brace
At some point on June 26, as the clock ticked toward midnight and Davis continued to drone on in her pink Mizunos, Republicans realized they had to do something to shut the woman up. So, with the goal of accumulating three strikes against her and forcing her off the floor, they began making up rules violations. Her reference to Planned Parenthood's budget wasn't germane to the abortion bill under discussion. Neither was the sonogram bill passed during the previous sessions requiring doctors to show women their fetus before performing an abortion. And of course they couldn't let her get help putting on a back brace after standing for several hours in one spot. Great optics for a party already seen as having trouble with women. More embarrassing still, their ploy failed miserably.
Time Stamp Change
When Senate Republicans realized that their anti-abortion push had been thwarted by the Davis filibuster and what they would later refer to as an "unruly mob," they figured that no one would notice if they changed the time stamp to make it look as if squeezed in a vote just before the midnight deadline. They hadn't, of course, as was quickly pointed out by many among the hundreds of thousands who were watching on the Internet. Eventually, this forced Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst to admit defeat.
Aborted Fetuses ≠ Dick Cheney
There are good Dick Cheney jokes and there are bad Dick Cheney jokes. State Representative Gene Wu's aborted-fetuses-are-like-Dick Cheney joke, which he quickly apologized for, was very much the latter.
Rick Perry Saying Wendy Davis Should Know Better:
Davis' rise from struggling teen mom to Harvard-trained lawyer is the type of back story any politician would love to have. It's the type of inspiring, bootstraps tale that voters can't resist. To Governor Rick Perry, however, Davis is a case study for why abortion should be outlawed since, if her mother had decided to terminate her pregnancy, we wouldn't be able to marvel at achievements. Never mind that Perry's claim that Davis was an unwed mother, or that her parents weren't married at the time of her birth, weren't technically accurate. Belittling ad hominem attacks cleverly disguised as compliments always play well.
Those pro-choice nutcases can be scary folks, as the video of the hollering protester being dragged from the House chambers will attest. If they'll kill a fetus, certainly they'll have no compunction about going after a hefty Republican freshman from Bedford. Luckily for Jonathan Stickland, he always keeps his firearm holstered and at the ready.
But Stickland wasn't referring to his own Second Amendment rights in his Tweet. No, he was merely expressing his wish that fetuses should also enjoy the right to bear arms, thereby ending abortion once and for all. Just don't think too hard about how they'd actually fire the things.
Even when you're locked in a take-no-prisoners battle with religious zealots, it's neither funny nor advisable to interrupt their rendition of "Amazing Grace" with screamed references to the Angel of Darkness. Even Satan worshipers think that's dumb:
Preteen Girls Holding Signs
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Again, outfitting a prepubescent girl with a sign that reads "If I wanted the government in my womb, I would have f***** a Senator!" probably doesn't deliver the intended message, even when you punctuate the exclamation mark with a heart.
A Texas Woman's Primal Scream
When the burnt-orange-clad crowd in the Senate gallery unleashed a deafening, 20-minute cheer to thwart Republicans after they killed Davis' filibuster in the most bullshit way imaginable, it was inspiring. When this woman attempted to disrupt proceedings by screaming at lawmakers from the balcony, it wasn't. The state troopers showed great restraint by keeping their nightsticks sheathed.