In a stunning blow that defies logic and common sense, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals struck down
Throughout the week of July 8, Texas women and their allies converged on Austin, camped out on the capitol grounds and in its chambers, and simultaneously raised hell on Twitter and any TV station that would listen. Why? The bill up for debate in a special session, an omnibus antiabortion bill full of unconstitutional restrictions, was wrong. While I busily tweeted my ass off about the unfolding situation on Wednesday, someone shot me an article from the Telegraph, a UK media outlet, titled: “What the Hell Is Going On In Texas? American Women Are Losing the Abortion Battle”, which concluded that the relentless drumbeat of anti-choice legislation is evidence that pro-choice activists in the US have failed to shift public opinion to “their side”.
In review, here are the ways states and cities have attempted to restrict abortion in just the last two weeks:
- On July 9 in Fairfax, VA: Although worded as a zoning ordinance, this law would impose new, expensive permits on the city’s only abortion clinic, which some council members claimed was a coincidence before voting to approve it.
- On July 5, Wisconsin’s Governor, Scott Walker, signed SB 206 in a non-public ceremony. The bill had been proposed and passed in less than one week using a special fast-tracking process designed to limit debate. It has onerous abortion restrictions similar to those in the Texas bill.
- On June 30, Ohio Governor John Kasich signed that state’s new budget into law, which just happened to include language requiring a mandated ultrasound and admitting privileges, and eliminates federal funding for Planned Parenthood in Ohio by re-prioritizing the disbursement of federal funds, while giving MORE money to crisis pregnancy centers, which exist to shame people and lie to them so they will not seek abortions.
- In North Carolina, a law that increases the penalties for drivers that endanger motorcyclists has passed in the House. This would be fine, except that is was stacked full of amendments that restrict abortion and brought up for debate with less than a days’ notice, ensuring that legislators had no time to read it.
Note the distinct lack of giving a shit about public opinion. Nobody who attempts to pass laws restricting access to people’s much-needed health care has an iota of concern for the public. The sneaky, underhanded, undemocratic tactics on display among anti-choice legislators are not an accident: lawmakers have been forced to resort to disingenuous strategies because they know that abortion restrictions cannot pass on their own merits. This is because pro-choice women have worked for decades to make it safe for anyone with a stake in reproductive justice to come out.
The stigma that used to keep people from talking about sex and vagina stuff cannot be overstated. Young pregnant women used to disappear to “a relative’s house” to give birth, and return to pretend as though it never happened. The families of women who suffered botched abortions might never find out why the otherwise healthy woman they loved died. Coming out has changed that pain into action. People now stand proudly in the halls of government talking about the realities of the choices they have made. One Wisconsin lawmaker discussed experiencing rape at age eight and two others talked about choosing to terminate pregnancies to save their own lives. Even this respectable lady showed up to the Texas capital with a wire hanger pin, an overt symbol of illegal abortion. And, when Rick Perry tried to shame Wendy Davis by reminding the world that she had been a single teen mother before embarking on her wildly successful life, most people remarked on how rude and distasteful he had been to try it.
When women and transpeople, and all others who have a stake in the debate, come forward and talk frankly about the impact of reproductive justice policies on our lives, we help dispel the myth that abortion is for “other people”. We dare those who will never be pregnant to tell us that our lived experiences don’t matter. We challenge those on the fence to see in us, the strong, responsible people they love, the face of a woman who has needed an abortion. Coming out is as simple as living your life truthfully, as you believe it should be lived, and talking about it. And, it has the added benefit of making forced-birth advocates squirm when they have to look you in the face on the House floor.