Wendy Davis Lost The Election, But She Changed The Game

Wendy Davis, kickass American hero, has lost the Texas gubernatorial election. I know I shouldn’t be surprised. For starters, she’s a Democrat, and Texas hasn’t had a Democratic governor in almost twenty years. To top it off, she’s a female, and a mother, and one of the thousands of women in this country who’ve had an abortion. It’s pretty devastating that basic facts of the female experience are political liabilities, but the fact is that while women can and have been elected to the gubernatorial office many times, it’s tough to do so without being characterized as a workaholic mommy, or a man-hater, or being bombarded with that bullshit question about “having it all.” As if a person’s entire life experience could be reduced to such benign stereotypes. That’s not to say that being a woman is the reason she wasn’t elected. People may simply not agree with her plans for the state. Maybe they did agree with her, but they were afraid of what change would bring. That’s what free elections are all about, so I can’t really speak for Texas voters, but the reality is that her loss means that thousands of women have lost their shot at having a say in what happens to their own bodies.

After all, Davis’s 13-hour filibuster put a human face on the fight to squash Senate Bill 5, the devastating anti-abortion bill that left Texas women with little access to reproductive healthcare. Even after heavy abortion restrictions were signed into law, her energy and refusal to give up was reason for women all over the US to stay optimistic. Her loss in the election feels like a whole lot more than Davis not being governor – it feels like a deflating loss of the hope for basic women’s rights.

This isn’t over, though. While Davis didn’t win the gubernatorial seat, she did manage something greater – she put the desperate need for reproductive rights into the consciousness of the rest of the country. By garnering massive support for her campaign, she made it clear that reproductive healthcare is a high-stakes necessity for every woman rather than some political issue to be debated, and she showed that the push for it is universal instead of some fringe interest. It ruffles feathers when a woman speaks up for her needs instead of sitting in the corner smiling and nodding, and even though it’s 2014, doing so is still a brave (and pretty radical) act. Davis continues to speak out for what’s right even when others don’t like it, and that’s what makes her opponents quake with fear, whether they admit it or not.

Reproductive healthcare isn’t just a ladies’ issue. It impacts men, couples, children, the poverty rate, and in many cases, the survival of pregnant women. Luckily, I’m pretty positive Davis isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. We have a long fight ahead before every woman in this country has the healthcare access she deserves, but Wendy will be right behind us, using her powerful voice to speak for those of us who can’t. She changed the game of politics, and that victory reaches way beyond one election.

Last night, she tweeted: “My friends: Keep believing with me. Keep fighting with me. And in the end, we will win.”

[Image via Shutterstock]