Rep. Jonathan Stickland (R-Bedford) is many things–among them, petty, agressive, and wrong. Yesterday, he showed off his ability to be all three of those things in the hallway right in front of his Capitol office.
Wednesday was Planned Parenthood lobby day at the Capitol, which of course brought out the legislature’s anti-women contingent in full force. It began with the group Texas Right to Life handing out signs that identified legislators as a “Former Fetus.” Stickland, never one to turn down the opportunity for a public display, chose to proudly hang his sign on his office door, accompanying it with a Facebook post that read:
Today Planned Parenthood is visiting and lobbying the Capitol. In honor of their visit, I put this sign up on my office door. Organizations that murder children are not welcome in my office. #prolifeandproudofit
It’s not the first time Stickland has loudly advocated for policies that he has no business speaking about in the first place. Stickland, a high-school dropout has been a vocal supporter of open carry on college campuses, and he authored the House’s constitutional carry bill. Despite the fact that he’s never been a college student, he claims to know best about how to protect college campuses (the answer is all students openly carrying handguns, naturally). Now, despite not possessing a uterus, he’s acting like an authority on women’s healthcare.
Stickland’s proud display didn’t last long, however. It was promptly removed by Rep. Charlie Geren (R-Fort Worth), who is in charge of enforcing the rules of the chamber. Geren reminded Stickland that decorating the halls of the Capitol was prohibited.
For some, that might have been the end of the story. But not for Stickland, who took to the media to complain about his treatment. As the Texas Tribune reported, Stickland claimed the sign had , “just been ripped down and thrown in my staffer’s face by Charlie Geren…I thought it was absolutely handled in the wrong way…I wish Rep. Geren was more professional about it instead of intimidating my staff.” Stickland, a man who calls those he disagrees with “retarded liberals” and tells them to “shutup” on social media, told the Austin American-Statesman that he found the sign’s removal “aggressive and intimidating.”
Geren’s response to Stickland’s antics was appropriately derisive and disdainful. Said, Geren (emphasis added):
“Tearing them down is hardly the deal…If Stickland wants to act like a child, that’s fair, but I did not rip it down.”
Geren added that “sometimes people mistakenly take his deep voice as a sign of aggression.”
Stickland ultimately decided to display his sign from the inside of his office door, thus ending the Lege’s intra-Republican drama for the day.
Of course, while Stickland’s childish shenanigans may be ripe for mockery, it’s important not to forget that this man, immaturity and all, actually has the power to influence the future of women’s healthcare in Texas. And that’s why days like Planned Parenthood lobby day are so vital, to remind Texas lawmakers that women deserve access to basic care. The fight is not over, and incidents like this emphasize the continued need for Texas women to take a stand. While Jonathan Stickland may be a former fetus, he certainly can’t gestate one, and that means making decisions about women’s health is none of his business.