House Committee Hearing on HB2 & Diverse Needs of Texan Women

There has been some truly incredible testimony tonight at the Senate committee hearing, and there are many quotes that I would like to honor and remember as the days of the second special tick by, but that testimony — though moving and brilliantly compelling — isn’t what I wanted to share with y’all. A “pro-life” young woman stood up tonight and remarked that she didn’t need “reproductive justice or free birth control,” and the privilege in her statement was absolutely stunning. I don’t mean to attack this one young woman; her sentiment is shared by many. But there are some fundamental problems that were evident in her testimony that reflect a larger lack of understanding on the part of “pro life” activists who seek to curtail our access to affordable abortion care.

It was obvious from her testimony that though she talked about “crisis pregnancies,” she had no understanding of what it really means to be pregnant with nowhere to turn. Nor did this young women understand that just because she “doesn’t need free birth control,” that doesn’t mean that there aren’t women who do desperately need free or low-cost birth control. I work two jobs during the summer and one during the year, paying for a private school in Washington state, rent, utilities, and all other bills. I’m lucky enough to have supportive parents who help me when I can’t quite cover everything — but I certainly can’t afford the $100 per month sticker price of my birth control prescription. Keep in mind that I’m a white, middle class, young woman — and without clinics like Planned Parenthood, birth control would be unaffordable for me.

Now think about all of the factors that complicate access to birth control — both in terms of financial resources and community support — and it’s not hard to understand why so many women are fiercely defending their right to affordable and accessible health care; their right to make their own healthcare decisions. Women of color in Texas often grow up in conservative communities, where abortion and birth control are taboo subjects for young women. On top of that, there are far fewer free or low-cost clinics in rural and border areas than there are in major metropolitan areas like Houston, Dallas, and Austin. It’s curious to me — and I know I’m not the only one — that women of color are already operating with far fewer choices than their white counterparts in big cities. Certainly there are women of color in these big cities as well — but the number of women of color disproportionately affected by bills like HB2 is astronomical. When posed as a question to GOP committee members, the disproportionate effect of HB2 on young women of color has been dismissed time and time again by pointing out that “it’s possible that some clinics will stay open.” If those speaking in favor of HB2 were truly pro-choice, they would understand that sometimes a woman’s life depends on her ability to access affordable birth control. Sometimes a woman’s life depends on her ability to access affordable abortion services. For many women in abusive relationships, the windows of opportunity to seek abortion services are few and far between — often forcing women past the 20 week mark. I challenge Rep. Laubenberg or any of her anti-choice colleagues to look a young woman in the eyes and tell her that she can’t have an abortion because the only day she could get to the clinic without notice from her abusive partner was past the 20 week mark.

Once you factor those things into your determination about whether or not sexual healthcare is easily accessible for all women in Texas, factor in other circumstances that can prevent a woman of any race from being able to access abortion or preventative health care: rape, incest, a significantly lower income than the national average, less information about safe birth control choices, abusive partners, and physical or mental disabilities. Women seeking birth control or an abortion likely often already have young children — remember that most women who get abortions are already mothers, many of whom have decided that they don’t have the ability or desire to care for an additional child. Should HB2 pass, you would be asking mothers to place their own welfare, and that of their children, below the welfare of a cluster of cells that might, one day, become a person. Should HB2 pass, you’re asking those same mothers to forgo affordable birth control or cancer screenings  because the clinics that once provided those services also provided abortions.

Just because that young woman and her “friends in blue” can afford to pay sticker price for birth control, HPV screenings and vaccines, STD testing, pregnancy tests, condoms, and other preventative healthcare doesn’t mean that all — or even most — women in Texas can afford those services. That Texas is ranked the 4th highest in the US for teen pregnancies should tell you something: abstinence-only education and inaccessible birth control just isn’t working. We should be wary when the bills we pass become law without any consideration for the diverse needs of the women of Texas.

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Rio Grande Valley Media/ Medios de Comunicación en Español

*Post by Nancy Cardenas @nancycardenas91 *

La segunda sesión especial comienza en Texas, las mujeres y hombres por igual se reúnen por todo el estado de Texas para oponerse a la nueva legislación que en absoluto  prohibira los centros de abortos seguros.

La ausencia de mujeres en el Valle del Río Grande en el Capitolio estatal de TX es alarmante. El efecto de las leyes, HB 2 y SB9, sobre las mujeres del valle, tendran consecuencias drasticas. Ahora tendrán que viajar cientos de millas para un aborto seguro .

RGV (Valle del Rio Grande) medios de comunicación y noticias que hablan en español han sido en gran medida ausente en este debate.He compilado una lista de los medios de comunicación que hablan en español y medios del RGV abajo. Les pido que por favor comunicanse por Twitter, mensajes, llamadas, correo electrónico o facebook a estos medios de comunicación. Si lo único que prohíbe a las mujeres participar en esta discusión es la barrera del idioma, hemos cometido una gran injusticia. Esta lista no es de ninguna manera * completa * Pero es un comienzo.

The second special session begins in Texas in which, women and men alike, gather around the state of Texas to oppose new legislation that will essentially ban abortion centers.

The absence of women in the Rio Grande Valley at the state Capitol in TX is alarming. The effect of the legislation HB 2 and SB9 on women in the valley will result in drastic consequences. Now women in rural areas such as El Paso and South Texas will have to travel hundreds of miles to have a safe abortion.

RGV (Rio Grande Valley) and news media who speak Spanish have been largely absent in this debate. I have compiled a list of media who broadcast in Spanish and RGV media below. I ask that you please communicate by Twitter, messages, calls, email or facebook. If all that forbids women to participate in this discussion is a language barrier, we have committed a great injustice. This list is by no means * complete * But it’s a start.

RGV College Newspapers

1. University of Brownsville

– URL: http://utbcollegian.com/index.php/news

– Twitter Handle: @utbcollegiate

– Hotline # (956) 882-5143 or e-mail collegian@utb.edu.

2. The Panamerican

– URL: http://www.panamericanonline.com/

– Twitter Handle: @ThePanAmerican

– Hotline # (956) 665-2547 or email thepanamerican@gmail.com

RGV Newspapers

1. Brownsville Herald

– URL: http://www.brownsvilleherald.com/

– Twitter Handle: @BrownsvilleNews

– (Contact Info) Zulema Baez

El Nuevo Heraldo

Director of Spanish Publications/Editor

zbaez@elnuevoheraldo.com

P (956)982-6666

2. The Edinburg Review

– URL: http://www.yourvalleyvoice.com/

– Twitter Handle: @ValleyTownCrier

–  Hotline # (956)682-2423 or email  info@valleytowncrier.com

3. Harlingen Valley Morning Star

–  URL: http://www.valleymorningstar.com/

– Twitter Handle: @valleystar

–  Hotline # (956) 430-6200

4. The Monitor

– URL: http://www.themonitor.com/

– Twitter Handle: @monitornews

– Hotline #: 956-683-4000

5. Mission Progress Times

– URL: http://www.progresstimes.net

– Twitter Handle: @ProgressTimes

–  Hotline # (956) 585-4893 or email news@progresstimes.net

6. Rio Hondo News

–  URL: http://www.theriohondonews.com/

– Twitter Handle: –

–  Hotline # (956) 797-9920 or email laferianews@aol.com

 Texas Spanish Speaking Newspapers

1. Al Dia (Dallas)

– URL: http://aldiatx.com/

– Twitter Handle: @aldiatx

– Hotline # (469) 977-3720 or email preguntas@aldiatx.com

2. El Hispano News

– URL: http://elhispanonews.com/

3. El Heraldo News

– URL: http://elheraldonews.com/

-Twitter Handle: –

– Main # (214)827-9700 or email f.rayo@elheraldonews.com

4.El Nuevo Heraldo

– URL: http://www.elnuevoheraldo.com/

– Twitter Handle: @ElNuevoHeraldo

– Main #(956) 542-4301 or email  zbaez@elnuevoheraldo.com

5. Laredo Daily New

– URL: http://www.laredodaily.com/contact-us-

-Twitter Handle: @NewsLaredo

– Main # (830) 352-5075 or email noticias@laredodaily.com

RGV Television Stations

1. Univision Noticias 40 (Spanish)

– URL: http://knvotv48.com/

– Twitter Handle: @knvotv48

– Main #  (956) 687-4848 or email noticias48@entravision.com

2. Telemundo 40 (Spanish)

– URL: http://www.telemundo40.com/

– Twitter Handle: @Telemundo40

– Main # (956) 686-0040 or email news@telemundo40.com

3. Action 4 News

–  URL: http://www.valleycentral.com/

–  Twitter Handle: @kgbt

– Main # (956) 366-4422 or email listens@valleycentral.com

4. ABC 5 News

– URL: http://www.krgv.com/home/

– Twitter Handle: @krgv

– Main # 1-866-797-TIPS (8477) or email my5@krgv.com

5. News Center 23

– URL: http://www.kveo.com/

-Twitter Handle: @KVEO

-Main # (956) 544-2323

6. FOX News 2

– URL: http://www.foxrio2.com/

– Twitter Handle: @foxrio2

– Main # (956) 661-6000 or email newsroom@foxrio2.com

Texas Politics: Getting Ready for the Second Special

Did y’all think this was all going to die down after the first special?

Think again.

Lt. Gov. Dewhurst has now made the following threats:

  • He will arrest any members of the media he believes were “inciting the mob” or “inciting the riot” (shockingly, when everyone backlashed, he withdrew this threat and decided that the TX Press Corp hadn’t incited a riot)
  • He will close the gallery and/or completely clear it
  • He will arrest House Dems who were on the Senate floor Tuesday night

while at the same time:

If Lt. Gov Dewhurst is going to shut down the gallery, why do anti-abortioners (“pro lifers”) need to show up in full force? My guess is that he’ll allow the gallery to be filled and then claim that we’re violating the rules of decorum, having troopers escort all in orange out of the gallery, and allow those in blue to stay — claiming that they’re following the rules of decorum.

Lt. Gov. Dewhurst would never be able to arrest his direct opponents in the Senate, so his second best option is (apparently) to start arresting House Dems for what he will probably claim is an illegal presence on the Senate floor during Senate proceedings.

If y’all want to keep up with this on Twitter, SB5 has become SB9 and HB2, meaning you should check out the following tags:

  • #SB9
  • #HB2
  • #KBV2
  • #standwithwendy
  • #txlege

and follow:

  • Jessica Luther (@scaTX) <– Seriously, Jessica for everything. Her blog is here.
  • Virginia Pickel (@tootwistedtv)
  • Dan Solomon (@dansolomon)
  • Scott Braddock (@scottbraddock)
  • Nancy Cardenas (@nancycardenas91) <– #txlege updates in Spanish// informacion sobre #txlege en Español!
  • Me! (@alexisjkostun)
  • Andrea Grimes (@andreagrimes)
  • Lilith Fund (@lilithfund)
  • Planned Parenthood (@PPact)
  • Planned Parenthood Greater Texas (@PPGreaterTexas)
  • NARAL Pro Choice TX (@naraltx)

There is a lot of activity as we get ready for the second special but the most important thing to remember is that we’re not going anywhere and that means pacing ourselves through the next 30 days. Jessica Luther has posted a comprehensive schedule of what’s planned so far here.  Virginia and I are working on a list of all members of the House & Senate with their FB pages and Twitter handles so that it’s easy for you to contact your reps and let them know you don’t support these bills.

If you’re available, I’m re-posting the following call to action from Texas Dems:

Texas Democratic Party needs people to phonebank Democrats with a high pro-choice rating. We are trying to get as many people out to the Stand Up Monday – Rally at Texas Capitol at 12pm. If you are able to phonebank either at the TDP headquarters or from home, please contact our Vice-President, Pedro Villalobos (pedro.villalobos09@gmail.com).