Exclusive With Woman Dragged From Senate Hearing, & More Arrests At Texas Capitol Over Abortion

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A series of YouTube videos have been posted showing more activists being carried out of the public forum for civil disobedience. I reported a couple of weeks ago on the 74 year old woman arrested in the Senate Gallery, but since that time several more reproductive rights activists have been forcibly removed and/or arrested.

The first video, which immediately went viral, is of a young woman named Sarah, @VictorianPrude on Twitter, being dragged away from the microphone during the Senate Health and Human Services Committee hearing Monday night. She did not use profanity but was cut off by the chair, Senator Jane Nelson, as soon as she began to personally address each committee member on their shortcomings “protecting” women.

Let's start down the line. Senator Campbell, you're an ophthalmologist. So I won't be making you the expert on reproductive health. We can give you all the children with chlamydia and herpes in their eyes, since we don't have Sex Ed in this state…

Check below the jump to read my short interview with Sarah on her testimony to Senate HHS, as well as the “Rise Up” response to and video of their members' being arrested in the House gallery Wednesday…  At that point Senator Nelson began talking over her and eventually calling for the next witness as troopers dragged her away. In an interview with Daily Kos, Sarah said she had begun her drive to Austin at 5:30am before getting to speak around 11pm that night.

In related news, on Wednesday, 5 members of the group “Rise Up” were arrested in the House gallery as legislators voted on final passage of the bill. They are expected to be released without being charged sometime this evening from the Travis County jail where the group also plans to meet.

These arrests follow a pattern of unprecedented activism over what many feel is an overreach by legislators who are trying to insert themselves between women and their doctors. Before being dragged from the mic during her testimony to the Senate HHS Committee Sarah probably said it best, “You [the Texas legislature]have radicalized hundreds of thousands of us. And no matter what you do for the next 22 days, women and their allies are coming for you.”

So far with every cry of foul from those who Stand with Texas Women, the response has been to accelerate the pace at which this bill travels towards the desk of its master orchestrator — our lame duck governor Rick Perry. Since the end result appears to be, albeit forcefully, evident the only question that remain unanswered is if this same “unruly mob” will show back up in March and November of 2014.

Here is my short Q & A with Sarah on her run in with the law(makers):

1.) Knowing you were going to address each member directly did you expect that you would be cut off before finishing your testimony?

When I testified forcefully on 6/20, Rep. Byron Cook shut down the hearing for an hour and ran away so I knew they had really thin skins. However, I didn't  expect to have my 1st amendment rights completely trampled by Senator Jane Nelson or to be threatened with physical force like she ordered.

2.) Do you have the remaining testimony printed? I would love to publish what you could not finish at the mic. Very interested in what you had to say about each member.

The testimony was off the cuff except one paragraph. It was rewritten mid-day and was just going to be pathetic facts about each Republican member's district and why they were unfit to be pushing the bill or their agenda against Texas women.  I have the facts on my phone and will be posting them for HuffPo tomorrow or might get to do them on Lawrence O'Donnell tonight. Whichever comes first.

3.) What comes next? Will this movement be defused by 2014? Do you have a cursory idea of what we should do next?

It would be a shame to ask Texans to wait til 2014. In 2003, the Texas Democratic Party asked us to wait for 2006, then 2010, then 2012. We are tired of waiting. It's time for massive civil disobedience. It's time to shut down a broken Texas legislature. The rules keep changing but the players stay the same. This is our government and we need to put a stop to this hateful, expensive madness going on.

4.) Today 5 more were arrested in the House gallery for civil disobedience. Do you consider what you did an act of civil disobedience?

I do consider it civil disobedience. The use of force was promised to them if they disrupted, they knew the bill would probably pass and they did it anyways. I'm in awe of their brevity and can't wait to see them as the fight resumes in the Senate for the third time.

Video of Sarah's testimony to Senate HHS:

Also, as promised, here is the full statement from Rise Up Texas on the arrests of their members in the Texas House gallery:

From Rise Up Texas:

Austin, TX – On July 10, 2013, Jessica Harmon, Yatzel Sabat, Joshua Pineda, Hallie Boas, and Julia Pashall – members and allies of Rise Up / Levanta Texas – were arrested earlier today in the Texas House of Representatives Gallery for stating their opposition to the continued assault on women's human rights and standing up for their moral beliefs…

Video of arrests made in House gallery of “Rise Up” members civil disobedience:


About Author

Joe Deshotel

Joe was born and raised in Beaumont, Tx, but live music and politics brought him to Austin. He has worked in and around government and elections for over a decade including for a member of US Congress, the Texas Legislature, the Mayor of Austin. He currently serves as Communications Director for the Travis County Democratic Party. He is most interested in transportation, energy and technology issues. He also likes Texas Hold'em and commuting on his electric skateboard. Follow me on Twitter at @joethepleb.

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