Sometimes One Voice Can Make a Difference

Don’t you feel helpless sometimes? You read the paper, watch political news on TV, listen to the idiots on your car radio, and you want to bury your head in a pillow and cry. Or you don’t read the paper, don’t watch political news on TV, don’t listen to the idiots on those talk shows. You watch the ball game or a movie instead and tell yourself there’s nothing you can do about any of it so why bother?

And then there’s Sarah Slamen.

She decided to do something about the assault on women’s rights under way across America. The 28-year-old  Central Texas woman got mad as hell when she learned of the draconian anti-choice legislation being adopted by her state legislature. She was further outraged by the fact that Texas Governor Rick Perry’s sister – a health care lobbyist – would benefit financially from passage of the legislation.

The bill was successfully filibustered by state Senator Wendy Davis (in her orange sneakers, remember?), but has been reintroduced and seems certain to pass this time. The legislature was going through the pantomime of a public debate before passing it.

Slamen climbed into her car at 5 a.m. and drove all day to the state capitol of Austin. It was 11 p.m. before  she was given a chance to speak.

She was armed with a prepared speech, but after sitting through hours of pro-life propaganda, she abandoned her notes and just let her anger do the talking. “I’m tired of Republican primary politics, misogyny and greed,” she declared before taking aim at individual senators.

Here’s an excerpt from her testimony:

It was destiny that [Republicans] would discriminate against us and try to force your way inside the bodies of Texas women. Thank you for finally working against women so publicly, and not in the shadows like you’re used to. Thank you for every single bad press conference with your bad information. Thank you for every hateful statement degrading women and girls to sex objects, and brood mares, and bald eagles and leather wallets, like your eloquent pro-life supporters have done today.

Thank you for being you, Texas legislature. You have radicalized hundreds of thousands of us, and no matter what you do for the next 22 days, women and their allies are coming for you. Let’s start down the line. Senator Campbell, you’re an ophthalmologist. So I won’t be making you the expert on reproductive health. We can give you all the children with chlamydia and herpes in their eyes, since we don’t have Sex Ed in this state.

When committee chair Jane Nelson tried to shut her up, Slamen retorted:

This is MY government, ma’am, and I WILL judge you! 

She continued to do just that until four burly state troopers forcibly ejected her from the hearing. But she would make a difference. The internet is buzzing with videos of her rant, and she was featured on MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell show last night.  Across this nation, women – and a lot of us men – are sharing her outrage today.

Here’s how Salon’s Katie McDonough describes the impact this one voice is having:

To say that Sarah Slamen “became a viral sensation” on Wednesday with her testimony against Texas’ sweeping abortion ban would diminish the power of what she actually did. The activist captured the outrage and disbelief felt by thousands of others, both in Texas and beyond, in two minutes of blindingly honest speech.

One more voice has been added to the outcry against the Republicans’ war on women. At the same time, other voices are being raised in places like North Carolina, where women in motorcycle helmets are protesting the sly addition of anti-abortion measures to a bike safety bill. The outrage is swelling.

As Sleman warned those oppressive lawmakers:

Women and their allies are coming for you. 

Click to watch a video of Sarah’s fiery testimony.

Click to catch her on Lawrence O’Donnell.

Read more about Sarah here.