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Former Texas senator Wendy Davis advocates for women’s health

| Tuesday, April 5, 2016

In June 2013, Wendy Davis fought for the protection of abortion rights in an 11-hour filibuster in the Texas state senate. Nearly three years later, she continued her advocacy for women’s health with an hour-long talk and discussion at Notre Dame. Hosted by the Notre Dame College Democrats, the event was co-sponsored by Women in Politics, Progressive Student Alliance, BridgeND and the department of gender studies. 

20160404, 20160404, College Democrats, Debartolo, Grace Tourville, lecture, Rising Up- From Single Mother to Harvard Law- How Every Woman Stands to Make a Difference, Senator Wendy DavisGrace Tourville | The Observer

Davis said her own personal experiences with women’s health issues has colored her views on the issues, especially in regards to her beliefs on abortion.

“The issue of [abortion] is not to impose our ideas on other people — particularly when we may not understand the position a person is in, and the decision she is making,” she said.

According to Davis, she made the decision to terminate a pregnancy.

“[I was] post-20 weeks of pregnancy of a much-wanted pregnancy that I had waited years to have, and … our very much-wanted child was suffering from a fatal fetal brain abnormality,” Davis said.  “What we were told was that if our child survived delivery, which she would likely not, that she would live a life of tremendous suffering — if she lived long at all — and we made a decision out of love.”

She said her abortion prompted her 2013 filibuster in the Texas senate to block a bill, which banned abortions after 20 weeks and greatly restricted women’s access to abortion clinics.

“That was my decision to make; it wasn’t a decision that a legislature made for me,” Davis said.

However, abortion only addresses one facet of the issue, Davis said. Many women still face barriers to climbing the social ladder, such as the large cost of childcare, she said.

“For so many women in this country today, whether they are married or single, entering the workforce or entering the academic arena so that they can earn the kind of income that would help make their lives better, can be impeded by the obstacle that is unaffordable child care,” Davis said.

The lack of access to high paying jobs is another barrier women face, according to Davis.

“In spite of the fact that more than 50 percent of college graduates are women, two-thirds of minimum wage workers in this country are women and one-third are raising children on a minimum wage,” she said.

Due to these facts, Davis said it is vital to have a discussion on these issues.

“I think it is very important that, as we have these conversations about women regarding equal opportunity in this country, we necessarily put together [the] connection between reproductive autonomy and economic opportunity in this country,” Davis said.

In order to have these conversations, however, Davis emphasized the need to embrace feminism.

“We’re on a college campus, and, as I look around the room, I see a dramatic number of women,” Davis said. “Feminism is responsible for that. I think it is important for us to embrace and not hide from that word.”

Davis said her political views on the lack of opportunity women experience in the United States were impacted by experiences her family had during her early life. 

“[My mother] and my grandmother, like so many women in this country today, strapped on or laced up their shoes, with a single purpose — to lift up their children to have a better future than each of them had,” Davis said. “But they lacked an education and an opportunity to fulfill these dreams for themselves.” 

Davis said she enjoyed certain opportunities that allowed her to climb the ranks her mother and grandmother could not.  One of the most important of these, Davis said, was her access to a local Planned Parenthood clinic.

“It was my access to the only healthcare that I had for four years, at a Planned Parenthood clinic near my home,” she said. “That clinic provided me my woman care, my cancer screening and diabetes screening. But it also was a place where I could get counseling.”


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About Lucas Masin-Moyer

Lucas Masin-Moyer is a Sophomore at Notre Dame majoring in Political Science and American Studies, with a minor in Journalism, Ethics, and Democracy. He serves as Associate News Editor, lives in Morrissey Manor and hails from Telford, Pennsylvania.

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  • Gary

    Several Notre Dame clubs are paying Wendy Davis to tell Our Lady’s community the wonderful benefits of abortion and Planned Parenthood? Where is the choice of the unborn child? The most prestigious Catholic award to Joe Biden? Please pray for Notre Dame to return to its Catholic roots…

    • Au contraire, mon ami. Notre Dame, with having Davis speak as well as awarding Lataeres to Boehner and Biden, is being expressly and wholeheartedly Catholic. “Catholic” as “Universal”, as in “We Believe in One Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.” Words we all have said how many times in our lives?

      • Walt Osgood

        your explanation is?

      • Dominic Mancuso

        Obviously you are a more esteemed judge of what is Catholic than the bishop? When was your ordination your holiness?

      • JC

        The word “Catholic,” derived from the Greek καθολικός, does indeed mean “Universal.” However, that Universal does not mean an all-embracing acceptance of differing views. The word was first applied to the Christian community in the 2nd-century to refer to it’s geographic scope, in opposition to the Temple that preceded it. A Temple that limited itself to the ethnic community of Israelites.

      • mrc628

        When St. Ignatius of Antioch used the word “Catholic” to describe the Church he was using it in it’s proper sense, i.e. according to the whole (as in the whole truth) for all men. That is what she means by “universal” (she being the Church, of course). There is nothing Holy or Apostolic about abortion. Who in the world catechized you children? Or were you?

      • NDaniels

        One cannot be for Christ and anti Christ, simultaneously. to believe in One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, is to believe in The One True Church that Christ Has Found

    • sn0rkel

      Are you also going to complain about Notre Dame awarding the the Laetare Medal to John Boehner, who supports the death penalty?

      • RandallPoopenmeyer

        Lol, apparently, the death penalty is not an “intrinsic evil”.

        • camtastic

          It’s not an intrinsic evil in all cases, if you understand Catholic theology. Abortion is. But I’m thinking you’re not really versed in or interested in Catholic theology given your post above.

          • RandallPoopenmeyer

            It is in all cases, only God is infallible. How do you really know said person is guilty of such a crime?

      • Dominic Mancuso

        Why is it supporters of murdering innocents in the womb are strong opponents of the death penalty for murderers? Is this a window into their soul?

    • RandallPoopenmeyer

      People who need my body solely to survive do not get any rights if they infringe on my rights. They need permission to be in my body, I can give it and take it away.

      • Antonio

        Please take my word here when I say that my primary intention in asking this question is not out of defense or a desire to ‘convert’ you, but rather out of love for you and a desire to walk alongside you. My question is this: does it change your perspective at all if you pictured your own mother saying these same words in regard to your being or even possibility of being for that matter many years ago before you were born? I don’t know you, but I am sure I stand with many of your family, friends, and loved ones in saying that I am glad she did not consider you to be an infringement.

        • RandallPoopenmeyer

          It does not change my perspective. If my mother did not want to be a mother, that would be her choice choice. I would want her to do what she wanted with her life. She is happy with her life and intended to have us, so I am happy for her. I am happy with women no matter what choice they make as long as it makes them happy.

  • Just dropped into see how many folks will write the usual “How dare Notre Dame invite XXXXXXX blasphemer to speak!” “Notre Dame is ruining its reputation!” blah blah blah

    • camtastic

      Notre Dame has no Catholic reputation to ruin. It’s been in shreds for many years among practicing Catholics.

      • mary smith

        This is such a wrong statement. You obviously do not attend ND or know anyone who attends ND. This University has brought my daughter back to the church. And rebecca… open your ears and your heart. BLAH BLAH BLAH is Christ speaking to you. Peace….

        • “Christ” speaking to me is the voice of my conscience, as Father Richard McBrien (1936-2015), former Chair of the Department of Theology and Crowley-O’Brien Professor of Theology at Notre Dame, wrote in his book “Catholicism”, “a human being must always obey the certain judgment of his conscience” even when conscience is in conflict with Church teaching – a Catholic “not only may but must follow the dictates of conscience rather than the teachings of the Church.”

          • mary smith

            Father McBrien was not infallible. Maybe you should expand your reading to St John Paul II when it comes to the culture of death.

          • I have done so Mary. Especially when he writes in “Evangelium Vitae” (1995) about these aspects of the “culture of death”:

            +Forbidding the use of artificial insemination

            +Approving the refusal of “extraordinary or disproportionate {“aggressive” life saving medical treatments} means is not the equivalent of suicide or euthanasia. It rather expresses the acceptance of the human condition in the face of death.”

            Seems there are cultures of death and cultures of death.

            Incidentally Mary, belief in the infallibility of the Pope was not a requirement of being Catholic until 1870.

            And my guess is that Pope Francis doesn’t hold it in too high a regard.

          • Walt Osgood

            you are sooooo wrong….Father McBrien was a disgrace to the University…..You must have an WELL INFORMED CONSCIENCE….Not a feel good conscience…..

          • Father Hesburgh hired McBrien specifically. Is Father Ted an embarrassment to the University, too?

            My conscience is well-formed, sir. And no, it is not a “feel good conscience”. Otherwise, I would have told a friend not to divorce his wife. Or I would have told my daughter “Sure you can be a professional tennis player” when she couldn’t develop a second serve. Or…

            Lastly, don’t speak ill of the dead. Even if you disrespect or don’t like them.

          • Walt Osgood

            Father Hesburgh made a drastic mistake in the hiring of Father McBrien…also in supporting FR. Monk Malloy…Fr. Hesburgh was a PROGRESSIVE…

          • Walt Osgood

            He is completely wrong….

          • camtastic

            Then I’m sorry Fr. McBrian failed to explain to you what the catechism requires, because this is only half of the story…

        • camtastic

          Although my family has a 3-generations long involvement with ND, all of those in this generation who went to ND are now pro-choice, hyperliberal lapsed Catholics. I thankfully went to a university that practiced what the Catholic Church preached back in the days I was in college.

          I am VERY glad that your daughter had a different experience, but it doesn’t change the fact that ND’s reputation is shredded among the Catholic faithful by years of things like allowing people like Wendy Davis and Obama to have a spotlight at a nominally Catholic university. McBrien, as quoted by Rebecca below, is one of the problems – as McBrien didn’t even accept the Church definition of a rightly-formed conscience.

          • mary smith

            Sorry for your family’s loss of faith. I agree that ND has failed on some levels of the Catholic experience but if students want to develop a deeper relationship with God and become a more knowledgeable member of the Catholic church then ND is a perfect place for them. A well formed conscience will most likely come down to family influence and example.

  • Gary

    There have been more than 51,000,000 abortions in U.S since Rowe vs. Wade in 1972. There have been fewer than 2000 deaths to hardened criminals by the death penalty since then. When is a recipient of an honor too honorable to accept it? If either Boehner or Biden were honorable men, they would decline the Laetare award. Fr. Jenkins should resind both. How about giving the award posthumously to Judge Scalia or Mother Theresa? Both Catholic role models…

  • Dan Wynne

    FORMER state senator says it all.

  • Dominic Mancuso

    Notre Dame has sadly become a fraud; Catholic in name only so that they may charge maximum tuition from unsuspecting Catholic families who have no idea of the tripe their sons and daughters are being fed. It’s all about the Benjamins and nothing more. Hopefully graduates of conscience will turn their backs at commencement when Biden is honored for his steadfast support of infanticide.

  • NDaniels

    Who spoke in defense of human life?

  • Joe Shmoe

    Wendy Davis used her husband to pay for Law School then divorced him after she graduated. She should hack that mole off her face.

    • João Pedro Santos

      I don’t think Wendy Davis’ personal life is any of your business.

      • camtastic

        She made it everyone’s business

  • lizzle34

    Who paid for her travel, and did she receive an honorarium from Notre Dame?

  • João Pedro Santos

    Right-wing extremists tears are delicious. 😀

  • NDaniels

    The Gender Studies Program serves to objectify the human person by denying the essence of personhood, being a beloved son or daughter. The University can not claim vincible ignorance in regards to the act of abortion, thus if the administration allows The Gender Studies Program to continue with their anti Catholic agenda, this will be both a breach in their fiduciary duty to uphold the teaching of The Catholic Church, and a formal cooperation with evil.

    “Formal cooperation involves actually intending an evil purpose, regardless of the extent of physical participation in executing the act, e.g., advising, counseling, promoting, or condoning an evil act – all constitute formal cooperation.”

    • Monica

      I believe the GRC dropped their sponsorship.