Monday, June 24, 2013

Everything's bigger in Texas, especially the fetuses!

Most people who closely follow reproductive rights in the news are already aware of the shenanigans that happened last week in the US House of Representatives, with the passage of the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. While it is disappointing that it passed the House of Representatives, and that so many Republicans were willing to toe the party line in order to appease their ultra conservative constituents, this particular bill doesn't keep me up at night. Because I know that we (pro-choicers) have a firewall in the majority pro-choice US Senate and in our pro-choice President, Barack Obama.

As has been true since 2011, the true threats to reproductive freedom are happening in state legislatures. Last year, Virginia was the butt of many jokes for their proposed law which aimed to force women seeking abortion to undergo an invasive trans-vaginal ultrasound, whether their doctor felt it was necessary or not. But Virginia certainly wasn't the first (or the last) state to enact mandatory ultrasound legislation. This year, 2013, seems to be the year of the 20-week ban. Many states have passed it, and many others have tried and failed. Why a 20-week ban? Because you're not truly dedicated to the pro-life cause unless you are in favor of taking away the right from those 2% who are experiencing devastating crisis pregnancies--pregnancies with severe fetal anomalies, maternal health complications, and women whose bodies betrayed them by hiding their pregnant status until it was almost too late to do anything about it. Yes, those are the women who should be burned at the stake. The women who make the heartbreaking decision to end a much-wanted pregnancy in order to AVOID their precious babies from suffering from any pain at birth. The women who make the tortured decision to end a pregnancy they have bonded with in order to remain alive and present for their other children. And the women who for whatever reason didn't realize they were pregnant sooner, but still have the right to autonomously decide what is best for themselves.

Texas, the supposed "Big baby abortion mecca of the south," is the latest state to enlist trickery and sneaky manipulations of legislative rules to enact their restrictions on abortion. First, the Governor called a special 30-day session, normally utilized only for emergency legislation, and instructed republicans to introduce anti-choice legislation for passage. The new legislation included a 20-week ban, restrictions on the administration of medication abortion, new regulations on abortion clinics that would require them to meet the standards of ambulatory surgical centers, and a requirement that doctors who work in abortion clinics have admitting privileges in a local hospital.
All of these proposals are included in Senate Bill 5, which passed through the House despite a citizen filibuster and recent polls which show that 80% of Texans disapprove of the legislature taking up anti-abortion legislation in a special session.

SB5 will be heard by 11 AM tomorrow morning in the Senate, and the only chance for avoiding passage of the bill is if Senate democrats can delay the vote on the bill (filibuster!)and the 30-day session expires. Fingers crossed that happens. If not, my only hope is that Texans remember these unnecessary and intrusive restrictions on personal liberty the next time they go to the polls. Elections matter.