Texas Sen. Charles Schwertner shattered his table with a gavel to tell a woman her time to testify was up
One Texas senator is literally cracking down on women’s access to safe healthcare in the state. Really, though. Senate Health and Human Services Committee Chairman Charles Schwertner, a Republican from Georgetown, Texas, brought his gavel down so hard on a glass table top during a hearing that he shattered it — all to get a 24-year-old intern to stop her testimony against a bill that aims to ban one of the safest forms of abortion available for women in Texas.
This is really alarming, so we’re going to say it again: An elected official was so frustrated that he couldn’t get a woman to stop talking, he literally shattered a table to shut her up.
Maggie Hennessy, legislative intern for the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League, was testifying against a bill that would ban dilation and evacuation, the safest and most common form of second-trimester abortion. The bill uses language that pro-choice groups have said is misleading, including referring to the D&E procedure only as “dismemberment abortion.”
“This bill is full of false, medically inaccurate, ideological language designed to further stigmatize and shame women receiving abortion care,” Hennessy said in her testimony. “It’s an outright ban on the safest abortion method for some patients. In order to obtain care that is not banned by this bill, women would be forced to undergo an additional, invasive and unnecessary medical procedure, even against the medical judgment of their physician.”
She continued, “Considering Texas has the highest maternal mortality rate in the United States, a rate so high that it is even comparable to countries where abortion is illegal, I have to ask: how would this bill do anything but further increase that rate? I want to remind you all, especially the doctors on the committee, that a vote for this bill puts women’s lives on the line. I urge you to stop playing with reproductive health care as if it’s your own political puppet.”
It was during her final sentence that Sen. Schwertner told Hennessy her time to testify was up. As she continued speaking to wrap up the last sentence of her testimony, he slammed his gavel on the table so hard that he broke it, shocking the room into silence, Cosmopolitan reports.
Just minutes later, Schwertner allowed an anti-abortion lobbyist to go over time with his testimony. He talked as long as Hennessy had, but with no interruptions from Schwertner and his gavel.
It says a lot when a man is so frustrated by being unable to shut a woman up that he needs to break things, but then, the poor guy just can’t seem to catch a break. Almost all of the abortion bans he’s tried to implement in Texas has been overturned by the courts, including the one the Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional last year. That can’t have been an easy blow for Schwertner’s obviously fragile male ego.