It’s a chant that I’ve heard from the steps of the Texas Capitol to the Supreme Court on this incredible journey that started in the summer of 2013 and, if we’re honest, a long time before that. I’ve said those words a million times, sometimes shouting in a crowd, sometimes silently to myself when the opposition seemed overwhelming and the outlook just too dark.
It is hard to work on abortion rights in Texas, y’all. It’s been easier since the filibuster, because we had a touchstone, a victorious moment, a taste of what it is like to beat the odds and win. We also had tangible, visual, visceral proof that we were more than a rowdy handful – the pro-choice movement in Texas was a giant, unruly mob.
But since that moment, we’ve seen the devastating that House Bill 2 has wrought: clinics closing, providers unable to get admitting privileges barred from providing care, waiting lists over three weeks long for those who are able to access abortion services that are now hundreds of miles from many who need them. Through all of it, this decision day loomed.
The night before the decision, as I sat on the porch with my incredibly supportive partner, I sobbed as I talked through all of my anxiety. “We just really, really need to win,” I told him. I didn’t believe that it could happen, but I wanted it with all of my heart.
In a room full of abortion funders, advocates, and others in the pro-choice movement, I watched the SCOTUSblog with baited breath. My chest was tight, my hands shaking. I took deep breaths and fidgeted in my chair.
With the announcement of the decision, I started to cry. Big, ugly, sobbing tears. Heaving shoulders, red poofy face, and snot everywhere crying. Against all odds, against an overwhelming opposition, we won – like I never dreamed we could.
I cried as we celebrated in the waiting room of a clinic closed by House Bill 2, hugging these people who have become my friends and family through this struggle. All of us were in shock and, if I’m being real, I think I still am.
Not one more clinic will close because of these unnecessary regulations that have nothing to do with women’s health and everything to do with decreasing access to abortion care. No more providers will be barred from giving care because they can’t get admitting privileges. Clinics that were the pillar of reproductive health in communities around the state may be able to open. And the Supreme Court has taken an incredibly strong stance against these TRAP laws that have formed the bulk of anti-choice lawmaker’s policy platform in Texas.
Because in the end, the movement to increase access to abortion care in Texas is about people. It’s about the people who are trying to make the best decision for themselves, their families and their futures. And that’s why today means so much.
There is a lot of work left for us to do – Republicans in Texas have passed almost 20 abortion restrictions since Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973, most of which weren’t being challenged in this case. We have to keep those realities in mind, but we also have to take the time to cry, to hug, to laugh, and to celebrate.
We won y’all. And it feels so good!