Last summer the Texas Capitol erupted in protest after the lawmakers worked to pass some of the nation's strictest abortion legislation. Some of those protesters with RiseUp/Levanta Texas were arrested and over 9 months later some have been handed additional charges (while others were dropped) -- and at least a few feel that they were unfairly targeted by DPS.
Of the original 16 who were arrested 9 were summoned back to the court for additional charges levied Friday. Most were downgraded from Class B (disruption of a public meeting) to Class C (failure to comply with a lawful order). Protesters held a press conference outside of the Travis County Jail chastising DPS and the County Attorney to "drop the charges" -- still many questions were left unanswered.
Heather Busby of NARAL spoke at the press event and said, "What these people did was simply a non-violent act of civil disobedience by refusing to leave a public space...They are heros of Democracy and do not deserve to be strung along, punished for speaking out against a bill that hurts Texans, and that the people of this state did not want."
While many Texans reflected on what was a somber 41st anniversary of Roe v. Wade this week, focus was shifted specifically to the Rio Grande Valley, where access to reproductive care services has vastly reduced. Because of this, doctors who previously were able to provide abortion care have highlighted the frequency of people whose only options areto self-induce abortions now that they cannot access legal services.
"I hope our politicians are made aware of how many girls are self-aborting in the Rio Grande Valley," said Dr. Lester Minto, owner of Reproductive Services of Harlingen. In a story from Al Jazeera America, Dr. Minto discussed how his patients had told him if his clinic closed, they would resort to something illegal.
In another report this week by RH Reality Check, evidence has shown that self-induction was already more common in Texas than other states around the country before HB 2. With abortion-inducing drugs more accessible across the US-Mexican border, this seems to be the obvious choice for those who have been left with next to nothing. Stomach ulcer drugs like misoprostol and Cytotec are some options people have used for self-induced abortions, but there are other methods being used such as herbs, laxatives, or more physically invasive methods such as inserting objects.
Read more on what Texans have had to resort to below the jump.
The family of a brain dead woman who remains on life support against their wishes is suing the Fort Worth hospital that contends they are simply following state law by keeping her alive because she is pregnant. According to NBCDFW, "Experts familiar with the Texas law say the hospital is incorrectly applying the statute because Munoz would be considered legally and medically dead." The tragic story which broke nationally over the Christmas holiday, has now sparked a conversation among state leaders in Texas.
An incident in mid-December caused the woman to suffer what is believed to be a pulmonary embolism while she was 14 weeks pregnant, about 10 weeks before the fetus is considered viable. Women in Texas may have an abortion up to 20 weeks at their own discretion. After that point there is an exception for the life of a mother, but even before 20 weeks there apparently is not an exception for the death of the mother. Specifically, the Texas Health and Safety Code Section 166.049 states that, "a person may not withdraw or withhold life-sustaining treatment under this sub-chapter from a pregnant patient." The family argues that because she is "legally dead" the statute should not apply.
See what state candidates for High office including Wendy Davis and Greg Abbott have to say about the issue...
As open enrollment of the Affordable Care Act finally kicks off, Americans are beginning to celebrate a healthier future for our country. We rejoice over the millions of people who will receive coverage, no co-pays for preventive care, an end to discrimination based on pre-existing conditions, out-of-pocket expense caps, and much more.
But one thing seems to be missing from this incredible list of health benefits: abortion coverage for poor Texans.
As a board member of the Lilith Fund, a Texas abortion fund, I help raise money for low-income Texans to access safe and legal abortion care. When I tell people what I do, they might ask something like, "Abortion funds exist?" "How much do abortions cost?" or "Do people actually call you?"
The answers to these questions are simple. We exist! We're one of over 100 abortion funds in the country as part of a national network. We receive close to 3,000 hotline calls a year from Texans who can't afford their abortions, which may cost anywhere from $400 to over $2000. The majority of our callers are low-income, women of color, two-thirds of whom are mothers.
If Wendy Davis runs for Governor of Texas she will occupy the political middle-ground that Republicans continue to cede. That is a fact that was evident in the hour-long conversation she had at the Texas Tribune Festival this past weekend, as well as a new poll by Public Policy Polling.
She remained committed to her Oct. 3rd date on the question of her future plans, so her interviewer Evan Smith asked what she considered as she made her final decision. She said she wanted to make sure she wasn't doing something "fool-hardy" and recalled her last two hard fought elections in reliably red territory. "I knew when I entered that race that it was hard but it wasn't impossible," she said.
"I knew when I asked people to support me and to help me through their time, energy, and financial resources, I knew I was asking them to partner with me to do something that I believe we could make happen. And I have gone through that same analysis in making the decision that I will be announcing on Thursday."
Bottom line: If Wendy Davis enters the race for Governor, it's because she thinks she can win.
Click below to the jump to find out what progressives can expect and a new poll that could put some wind in Wendy's sails...
KUT has a very important report today from Bryan-College Station, where the local Planned Parenthood clinic closed in August due to Texas' extreme new anti-abortion law. KUT spoke to two women who can no longer find local health care because of the closure. A full 97 percent of Planned Parenthood's services are non-abortion services millions of women across the country depend on for their health.
Bryan resident Cadence King had been going to Bryan's Planned Parenthood since 1998, where doctors treated pre-cancerous cells in her cervix. She had "regular checkups over the years to monitor her condition and make sure it wasn't progressing". Since the clinic closed on August 1, King has had to miss two scheduled appointments and still can't find a new provider.
"I'm probably up against that window right now. There are some decisions that I need to make. And sticking your head in the sand is only good for so long," King said.
A college group called Pro-Life Aggies ran a full-page ad in the local newspaper listing alternatives for women who depended on the Planned Parenthood clinic. This "pro-life" group listed doctors that weren't taking new patients, didn't deal with women's health, or were only for foot and eye care.
"There's a long list of providers here in town," King said. "They consist of podiatrists and optometrists. And my eyes and my feet are fine."
Below the jump, read about a Texas A&M student who must travel three hours home to receive health care services.
The crowd at the Stand With Texas Women meet up in Austin was standing room only and featured an impressive panel of women representing organizations that help women gain access to reproductive healthcare.
Sarah Wheat with Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas opened the discussion by telling the audience that they are part of a group that will, "change the face of Texas." She then introduced Brittany Yelverton also with PP of Greater Tx, who was one of the organizers of the Stand With Texas Women coalition, for a Power Point review of the 2011 budget cuts and this summer's events. Yelverton started her presentation with an image of Wendy Davis' famous pink Mizuno's, "I never thought in my life I would be excited by seeing a pair of running shoes," she said, adding that they had become emblematic of reproductive justice across the state.
The panel was asked a series of questions related to how the passing of the strict abortion laws would affect their organizations and the women of Texas. The general theme was that rural women, poor women, and women of color will be affected most by the cuts to women's healthcare.
Click below the jump to see how these organizations are being affected by the new abortion restrictions and how they plan to change the debate...
Greg Abbott's twitter feed speaks in first person, but if the Attorney General is doing his own tweets his campaign may want to rethink its social media strategy. Just a week after Erick Erickson of Red State refused to apologize for calling Wendy Davis an "Abortion Barbie," Abbott thanked a supporter who called Wendy Davis an "idiot" and a "Retard Barbie."
There are a couple of acceptable ways to handle trolls on twitter, you ignore them or you correct and make an example out of them -- Greg Abbott did neither. Thanking someone for their support who is being intentionally and aggressively offensive brings legitimacy to their actions.
The Twitter backlash from his original response was enough to get the AG to revisit the statement but not enough for an apology...
See Abbott's response and what else the original offender is saying...
When I watched hundreds of Texas women offer inspiring, intensely personal testimony about how Republicans' ghoulish anti-choice, anti-women-and-couple abortion regulations would impact their lives at the Texas Capitol earlier this month, I couldn't help but feel a little sad. The diverse collection of stories of those who took a Stand with Texas Women were stories that every Texan should hear, because they reveal unforeseen problems with the bad abortion legislation and shone light on existing cracks in Texas' system for women's health and reproductive justice.
Personal stories engage us at an emotional level and connect us to a shared experience, and it was disappointing that the inspiring stories of hundreds of Texas women would be lost forever to the ugly, pixillated, always-buffering, nearly-unwatchable video archive of committee hearings maintained by the State of Texas.
Thankfully, someone thought ahead. Watch Paula talk about her heart-rending experience with date rape and the difficulties that come from having a non-viable pregnancy. More testimonials are embedded below the fold and at this link.
Most observers of the abortion debate in Texas expected today to be a last hoorah of sorts with Governor Rick Perry's signing HB2 -- boy were they wrong. Conservative Republican Phil King has filed a bill today, HB 59, that would restrict "abortion after detection of a fetal heartbeat."
The bill defines a fetal heartbeat as, "cardiac activity or the steady and repetitive rhythmic contraction of the fetal heart within the gestational sac," and can be typically detected as early as 6 weeks. It requires that a doctor perform a test to verify that no fetal heartbeat can be detected, the results of which must be presented to the woman who then has to sign her acknowledgement. Doctors who knowingly provide abortion services in violation of this decree are subject to a misdemeanor charge and a fine of up to $10,000. The bill makes an exception for a "medical emergency."