Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Stand With Texas Women @ Discovery Green

Stand With Texas Women's big orange bus came to Houston's Discovery Green this evening with a cast of folks we've come to love: Senator Wendy Davis, Senator Kirk Watson, Houston's own Senators Rodney Ellis and Sylvia Garcia and Planned Parenthood's Cecile Richards. Short notice, but there must have been a crowd of 1000 friendly folks there wearing orange.
We've had several really big weeks in the Texas legislature. The legislature is now in its second special session, the second called because in the first special session, Senator Wendy Davis filibustered. When she was cut off by three procedural moves after eleven hours, her fellow Democrats engaged in fine parliamentary maneuvering in the hope of running out the midnight clock. AND it was during this parliamentary maneuvering that  the Republican Senators pulled a few illegal moves and minutes before midnight there was an outcry for honest democracy in the visitor's gallery. Our fellow citizens ran out the clock and the bill died. But that wasn't the end.
Governor Perry called the gallery outburst 'an unruly mob', but the over 70,000 of us who were watching the Texas Tribune's live stream could see what that crowd in the gallery saw. Republican senators were making illegal moves to cut off debate and bring the bill to a vote. Were those Texans in the gallery bound to sit silently after watching this legislative abuse? Nope. They engaged in people's democracy.
Governor Perry immediately called another special session for the 'health of Texas women'. He and his cohorts are determined to pass this legislation, even though impartial polls tell us that 80% of Texans wish they'd leave the whole issue alone.
The House and Senate bills now being discussed will severely restrict the constitutional rights of Texas women to abortion AND access to basic reproductive health care. Basic care means well-woman exams, cancer screening, HIV testing and pre-natal care for pregnant women. These services will be swept aside because of the bill's onerous new regulations for clinics which also perform abortions.The bills that Perry and the Republican controlled legislature want specifically state that abortions may only take place in ambulatory surgical centers. Revamping the current women's health clinics in Texas would be so costly that 37 of of the remaining 42 clinics will be forced to close.
Now hear this: When they close, we are left with only five women's health clinics in this huge state and those five are all east of the I-35 highway that runs between Austin and San Antonio.
So, if you need an abortion or you need reproductive health care services in West and Southwest and Northwest Texas and have no health insurance or cannot afford to pay a private doctor, you are just out of luck.
Unless you can travel as many as 600 miles to one of the remaining clinics. How many of you have taken that car trip across Texas?  It's long, long. And, remember that the trip involves all of the following:
      1. Take time off from work and wonder if your boss will grant you unpaid leave,
      2. Find child care for children you are already raising,
      3. Pay for gas and food for the road trip,
      4. Pay for at least one night in a motel because the actions of the 2011 legislature require a
          sonogram, followed by a waiting period of 24 hours before any procedure,
      5. Pay for gas and food for the road trip back west of I-35.
      6. Receive a smaller pay check because of time off work - or discover that you've lost your job and
          need to look for another in this economy and in what is progably a rural area.
Of course, all this political nonsense that will not stop abortions. The bills, once signed into law by Governor Perry, will simply make abortions unsafe, just as they were during the days before Roe vs Wade. This fact eludes the radical religious right who are, after thirty years, scoring big in Republican held state legislatures. The new laws from Wisconsin and Ohio and North Carolina and soon, Texas, will be held up in court for the foreseeable future. Women without economic means will suffer for the political ends of others. And the need for social services and health care will rise at the same time that the State of Texas is cutting those services.
We live in a time when lots of folks - especially those in Republican controlled legislatures - are contemptuous of women's constitutional rights and the needless suffering caused by denying these rights. Thousands of Texas women have been called to action by the what they've witnessed in the legislature. We are on it and our will is strong. Women my age remember the days before Roe vs Wade.  Since Roe vs Wade, the goal has always been to make abortion safe, affordable and rare. That means sex education, accessable clinics and available contraception for everyone - women and men.
In this new struggle, we older ones can use our time wisely by telling before and after stories of the 20th century and we will, now urged on by Sherri Merfish's daughter Beth whose op-ed piece hit the NYT, My Mother's Abortion, on Monday - see link here.
Our daughters and grand daughters and all the young women and men I see at these pro-choice rallies are there to carry on. We need to register new voters and tell them their vote matters a lot. With tens of thousands of new voters in Texas, we will win more seats statewide for candidates that will legislate for women's reproductive health care, for public education - and certainly, for equal pay for equal work. You do know, that the Texas legislature approved in a bipartisan manner, the Texas Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, but Governor Perry gave it his veto.
We've got lots of work to do here in Texas. Women - and the men who love us - we must unite for common cause. Old women, working women, rich and poor women, young women, lesbian women, women of color, Republican women - we are all in this together. Note the sign 'Republicans Against SB 2.'
Stand With Us! Stand With Texas Women! Stand With All Women! Everywhere! NOW!

1 comment:

MMH said...

Old and young, Texas women won't be stopped.