When I was 17 and my parents told me we were moving to the United States of America I didn’t quite know how to react to that piece of news, but when they told me we were moving to Texas the reaction was immediate: dread. I thought that people here still rode horses around the streets or they were not going to like me for being different, that our house was going to be in a field of tumbleweeds and the desert was going to be the only view for miles to come, making my life as arid as the weather. As a young woman, my imagination was quite vivid albeit a bit dramatic.
That is not what I found when I came here, although the odd questions did happen and some racism did emerge, the majority of Texans whom I had the pleasure to meet and know welcomed me with kindness, opened their doors to my friendship and made me realize that I had generalized on something I really didn’t know until I experienced it. I am proud to be a Texan.
Now almost 10 years later this pride I feel is being challenged by Texas Republican Gov. Rick Perry and his incessant disregard for the rights of the women who belong to and love this state. Starting on Sunday 23rd of this month, the Texas Legislators have held a “special session” called by Perry, in which they have been trying to push through a “package” of abortion restrictions before the end of said session early this week. This package, also known as Senate Bill 5 and filed by state Sen. Glenn Hegar (R-Katy), contains the worst proposed anti-choice abortion bills that if passed by the House -where of 150 representatives 95 members are Republicans- then the Lone Star State will provide little to no access to safe and legal abortion care. If the SB5 passes in its entirety then it would:
- Ban all abortions after 20 weeks, with the exception of those “necessary to avert the death or substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function of the pregnant woman” or if a fetal anomaly “will result in the death of the infant not later than minutes to hours after birth regardless of the provision of lifesaving medical treatment.”
- Require all abortion-providing doctors to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of where the procedure is performed.
- Effectively ban telemedical abortions, requiring doctors to provide the abortion pill (a mifepristol/mifepristone combination) in person and according to outdated 13-year-old Food and Drug Administration regulations that are not only unnecessary, but thought to be potentially harmful in current practice, according to the American College of Gynecologists and the Texas Medical Association.
- Require all abortion providers to be licensed as ambulatory surgical centers, which would reduce the number of sites at which a Texan can obtain an abortion to a total of five, located solely in major metropolitan areas.
The Republican Party is claiming that these initiatives that are being taken are not to cripple the access women’s have to save environments regarding their health but to protect women themselves. As released by Perry’s Office:
“The horrors of the national late-term abortion industry are continuing to come to light, one atrocity at a time. Sadly, some of those same atrocities happen in our own state. In Texas, we value all life, and we’ve worked to cultivate a culture that supports the birth of every child,” Gov. Perry said. “We have an obligation to protect unborn children, and to hold those who peddle these abortions to standards that would minimize the death, disease and pain they cause.”
And yet, major medical groups in Texas- including the Texas Medical Association, the Texas Hospital Association and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists — have voiced an opposition to SB5, sending letters to our state law makers asking them to oppose this bill, 700 Texans in less than 24 hours invaded the Capitol in Austin, asking for audiences to give their testimony against it and wearing orange shirts supporting pro-choice, letting Perry know that he does not know better than Doctors and their female patients how to deal with their bodies.
According to State Policy Analyst Elizabeth Nash “This bill will reshape the abortion landscape in Texas. This would make it much more difficult for women to have access to women’s health care, because longer distances mean more time off for work and more challenges in arranging child care.”
However we are not giving up, as I write this Texas activists are driving to Austin and signing up for their three minutes in front of the House State Affairs Committee, in less than a 24 hour notice they have gone prepared to defend their right and not be silenced. This “people’s filibuster” against the omnibus abortion bill will not be stopped and all around we are seeing the support that is coming from outside and inside the state, sending food to those crammed in the hotel rooms; holding each other while chanting because we are tired and have had enough, waving “My body, my choice!” signs and fighting against the stereotypical behavior from the Republican party who wishes to undermine our rights and bodies.
They are the ones who made me proud, who represent me even though I cannot be there, who are choosing to show Governor Perry, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and Texas Rep. Jody Laubenberg that they will not stop us, they will not silenced us and even though they keep trying to bringing us down verbally and politically we will not be conquered, albeit they are choosing to ignore the national landmark that was achieved in the case of Roe vs. Wade in 1973 by the Supreme Court and the rights we hold under the 14th Amendment we are united now and forever, never to tire and always to show the Government that the attacks on our bodies will not be tolerated. Ever.