While Wendy Davis was filibustering a controversial anti-abortion bill in Texas, CNN was talking about the calories in blueberry muffins. So you might have missed the story, and you probably missed the out-of-the-blue heroism by the Texas state senator.
In delaying Senate Bill 5 until the constitutionally-mandated end of a special congressional session, Ms. Davis stood for an amazing 13 hours. As per the rather strict Texas filibuster rules, she must throughout that period stand unsupported and talk continuously on topic. Aided by a back brace, Senator Davis was able to keep upright for that entire period, but that’s only have the battle. The real question is: how does could she—or anyone mounting a filibuster, for that matter—manage to stay hydrated while not leaving to go to the washroom.
Last year’s filibuster by Rand Paul, nearly as long, was undone by the need to go to the bathroom after 12 hours. For Strom Thurmond’s historic 24 hour, 18 minute filibuster of the Civil Rights Act of 1957, he had aids hold up a bucket in the Senate cloakroom while he kept a foot on the floor, and in preparation was taking daily steam baths. Additionally, he had the luck of a sympathetic colleague (two-time presidential candidate and Arizona senator Barry Goldwater) who managed to earn Thurmond a few minutes of process to take a leak. Other extraordinary efforts include a St. Louis alderwoman being covered by staffers with various sheets while she relieved herself into a trash can. Video below.
Most options remain just as undesireable: catheters (which Rand Paul had been prepping to use, but given the early vote, was unable to fit himself with), adult diapers (rumored, but never confirmed), and a makeshift “astronaut bag” (also used in a Texas senate filibuster—this one of 43 hours by Bill Meier).
Wendy Davis, unlike Rand Paul, was more prepared with proper clothing, the aforementioned back-brace, an as it turns out, a catheter—allegedly at least. Friend Joel Burns reported to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that fact. Davis’ office responded with a cryptic statement that the senator “made all necessary preparations.”
“Peeing During Filibusters, Explained,” by Hannah Levintova, Mother Jones