Tag Archives: Roe v. Wade

Undue Burden: Abortion in Texas on the 43rd Anniversary of Roe v. Wade

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January 22, 2016, Austin, TX, USA

Although I didn’t plan to be at the Texas Capitol on the 43rd anniversary of Roe vs. Wade to hear comedian Lizz Winstead, Senator Kirk Watson, activist Amy Hagstrom Miller and others impassioned about Reproductive Justice speak, the stars aligned to bring me there. Wearing orange, armed with signs I made to protest in that same building back in 2013–La Lucha Sigue Y’all!–with a friend and clinic-worker by my side, I listened, as the wind whistled, and carried our whoops and hollering across the rolling lawns of the Capitol grounds.

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Fate has seemed time and again to draw me into abortion. Many, many people who support the right to choose clarify that they are pro-choice, but not pro-abortion. I cannot claim the same. Abortion, its cloaked and infamous history, everything about it, calls to me, in the depths of my soul, as a human right I cannot stop fighting for. After leaving my local abortion provider’s office last January to focus on domestic violence full-time, last summer I began to feel the void again. Maybe it was memories from the Capitol, maybe the heat got to me, but I was finally recovered enough from the massive burnout I suffered after the devastation of HB2, to pour myself into abortion again.

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Now I serve as one of two Outreach & Volunteer coordinators for The Bridge Collective, the only practical support network in Central Texas for people seeking abortion care. We as a collective, and through our network of volunteers, provide accommodation and transportation to people traveling within 100 miles of Austin (roughly a two-hour drive each way) to terminate a pregnancy. To give you an idea of what that means, check out the maps below. The orange markers are all of the abortion clinics we don’t serve, the purple ones are clinics we do, and the red markers are towns within 100 miles of Austin.

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TBC Travel Area

Covering the vast swaths of land between tiny Texas towns that dot the landscape, you’ve got a lot of time to think. And while for our clients that time may be spent confirming their decision, or contemplating all of the other responsibilities and stressors in their lives, for the drivers, inequality is always on our minds.

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But that’s true for a lot of Texans, in a lot of battles, over abortion, voting rights, segregation, police brutality, healthcare or lack thereof, classism, shelters for domestic violence survivors and the homeless, etc. etc. etc.

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Abortion has always been an issue that sparks a fire in me. I’ve written numerous times about bodily autonomy and the policing of bodies and abortion, but I’m glad that the political discourse around abortion, at least in my circles, has finally started to be intersectional (almost) all the time. The argument that “if men could get pregnant” may finally be shifting to “if cismen could get pregnant” because men can and are getting pregnant. No longer are White Feminists talking only about a woman’s right to choose, although that is still the dominant rhetoric. It’s heartening to hear frank, public discussions of WHO is affected by these ridiculous, restrictive laws, and how those of us with white or class or able privilege can help people suffering from racism, classism, ableism and transphobia.  So while many pro-choice arguments still look like this:

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I’m grateful that many of the memes and much of the discourse has shifted to be more wholly inclusive of all people who can become pregnant, like this: 1848_1679204842323100_2455440285072812659_n

It seems like more and more people, pro-choice people, are finally starting to show up for ACCESS to abortion, because Roe v. Wade means nothing to people who can’t afford, or get to, their appointments. Because we all know the wealthy will always find a way to terminate a pregnancy that is unwanted.

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But even if someone does have the funds, and the transportation to terminate a pregnancy, that doesn’t guarantee there is a clinic near them that will have an available appointment soon, or even before they pass the 12-week mark, or their state’s legal limit for termination. Nor do money and transportation promise that the patient has the “proper identification” or the right to take time off work (at least twice in Texas) or childcare or wouldn’t face a barrage of racist and insulting questions about their gender or immigration status. No wonder so many people in Texas and elsewhere are illegally purchasing abortifacients online, or self-inducing terminations.

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And while we may have to deal with media-supported abortion shaming and the clinic violence that is a consequence, and some ridiculous gubernatorial shenanigans and blatant sexism in our legislature, at least, unlike North Carolina, we don’t have to send the forced ultrasounds patients get to lawmakers. The documentary Trapped shows what it’s like from an abortion provider’s POV. We’re not the only one’s failing… yay? There have been some bright spots nationally in abortion laws though, like Louisiana & North Dakota, and some upcoming elections could prove to be critical as well.

Back at the Texas Capitol though, on January 22, 2016, our activists were just kicking off the Texas Truth Tour, to get to DC before March 2nd, in time for the landmark Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt case challenging the ominous omnibus HB2 bill that has been so devastating to abortion care in Texas. For more on how the SCOTUS ruling will impact the nation, check out this piece from Colorlines.

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You can help Texans get to the Supreme Court by texting ‘Fight Back’ to 97779 and follow their journey using #FightBackTX #StopTheSham and #WWHvHellerstadt, and other conversations around abortion rights and access with #DrawTheLine #WeWontGoBack #ShoutYourAbortion #7in10forRoe #RepealHyde #RepealHelmes #1in3Speaks #ReclaimRoe and #reprojustice. For more from the Draw The Line campaign hear these actors speaking out. Also, check out the incredible amicus briefs filed for the Supreme Court’s consideration, and Obama’s take on all of it.

Do people really need to be reminded what life was like before Roe? Apparently so. We’ll only have to look to El Salvador in the near future to see what a healthcare crisis of that magnitude looks like.

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Pro-Choice is the Real Pro-Life

Why am I pro-choice? I thought you’d never ask.

bfcd-2013Today is NARAL Pro-Choice America‘s 8th Annual Blog for Choice Day! And since they asked so nicely I thought I’d throw in my two cents on this year’s topic: Why are you pro-choice?

I am an abortion counselor. I talk to women who have made (and some who are in the process of making) one of the hardest decisions they will ever face. My job is to make sure they understand the procedure and what to expect, that all the consent forms are signed and in compliance with (ridiculous) Texas laws, that all of the patients’ questions are answered, but most importantly, it’s my job to ensure that each patient I talk to is confident that she is making the right choice for herself.

For some women the decision is easy, or they feel like it’s the only option they have. Indeed many, many women couldn’t pay for their abortion if not for some kind of private charity. They have two (or three or six) kids at home and know that there is no way they can afford another child and feel that they would be taking away (both financially and emotionally) from their “living” or “existing” children, as they often say. In reality, according to Guttmacher Institute statistics, at least 60% of women seeking abortion already have one or more children at home. They are already mothers and know how much hard work, sacrifice and dedication it takes to do the toughest and most important job in the world.

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In all fairness to my patients I’d say around 75% were using contraception when they got pregnant.

For some women the decision is excruciating and causes them a terrible amount of stress and heartache because they genuinely want a child but feel that they could not give it the life it deserves right now. These women’s feelings of guilt, selfishness and grief are exacerbated by “sidewalk counselors,” protesters who shout horrible, demeaning things at perfect strangers and who think their religious beliefs should dictate the morals of the lives of women they have never met. Ricky Perry and the legislators who decided Texas women need 24 hours to think over the mandatory vaginal ultrasound they are required to have before being legally eligible for an abortion take shaming women to a whole new level. What these zealots don’t understand is that abortion is very often a decision made out of love.

What most women feel after an abortion is relief. I’ve been thanked on countless occasions for helping provide this lifesaving service by women, both heartbroken and happy, who are grateful they still have a choice.

Sometimes abortion is a life changing decision, it allows a teen to graduate high school and go to the Olympics for pole vaulting, or it wakes a married woman up to the fact that she does not want to stay in her abusive relationship any longer. And sometimes abortion is mundane. For women who come in for their third or seventh, their familiarity with the process causes them more guilt than the choice itself. They have been able to shake off the stigma that women coming in for their first (and usually only) abortion may never overcome. The reality though is that no one wants to have an abortion: what every woman who comes to me wants is to not have gotten pregnant in the first place.

No one knows you, dear reader, and your life better than you do. So why, especially with something as intimate and private as procreation, would anyone else think they know what’s best for me?

That is the reason I am pro-choice.

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I am pro-choice for all of the patients I have ever encountered, from the woman whose husband was battling cancer to the teenager I sent away twice because she didn’t want an abortion even though her parents thought it was best for her. I am pro-choice for the patient who needs an abortion but because of her medical condition has to have it done in a hospital and thus literally needs an act of Congress to have it done because the hospitals in her town are religious. I am pro-choice for Savita Halappanavar, and because I never again want to mourn a woman’s life lost because she did not have access to a safe abortion.

I am pro-choice because it’s my body and I have the human right to choose if, when, and how to procreate or not. Why are you pro-choice?

 


Celebrating 40 Years of Choice!


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January 22, 2013 will mark the 40th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision of Roe v. Wade which legalized abortion in the United States.

To celebrate this momentous occasion in the birthplace (pun intended) of choice come on down to the Capitol of the Lone Star State: Austin, Texas!

Join dozens of organizations and businesses and thousands of individuals who are proud to proclaim:

Texas is pro-choice!

Feeling fired up? There are three four big events in the Austin area in honor of Roe’s 40th Anniversary.

1) Join pro-choice Texans for a free glass of champagne Wednesday, January 16th at Lustre Pearl for Cocktails for Reproductive Justice!

2) Take part in a free (RSVP required) conversation about women’s health and family planning with state representatives Democrat Donna Howard and Republican Sarah Davis the morning of January 22nd.

3) Enjoy a celebratory dinner at Mercury Hall on January 24th. You can learn more about this NARAL event or buy your tickets here. AND

4) Tell your representatives how you really feel about abortion at a rally on the steps of the Texas Capitol from 11:30-12:30 on January 22nd. Can’t wait to see y’all Celebrating Women’s Lives and Choices!

The Celebrating Women’s Lives and Choices Rally is sponsored by:
National Women’s Political Caucus
NARAL Pro-Choice Texas
Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas
Faith Action for Women in Need (FAWN)
The Lilith Fund
Whole Woman’s Health
First Unitarian Universalist’s Action for Justice Committee
Austin NOW
GetEQUAL TX
Texas Women’s Coalition

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