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."
A ceremonial signing of SB 24 was held Tuesday at the University of Texas-Pan American and University of Texas at Brownsville celebrating the merging of both schools. The bill, authored by State Senator Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa (D-McAllen), creates a new public university through joining UTPA and UTB, and a regional medical school that officials aim to grow into a national-level research institution.
The historic accomplishment has been several years in the making. The change is expected to positively affect the region's developing economy, education opportunity and healthcare industry.
Gov. Rick Perry (to the right), who was to speak in the ceremony, was greeted by a crowd of friendly faces and pro-choice student protestors.
If you want to learn more about ALEC and how you can get involved in exposing their corporate influence in Texas politics, join up with Progress Texas!
The American Legislative Exchance Council (ALEC) has spent the last forty years bringing corporations, their lobbyists, and conservative lawmakers together to put the corporate interest ahead of what's best for people. Functioning as a 501(c)3, ALEC allows corporations to give large amounts of tax-deductible donations to become part of ALEC's corporate councils. These councils then vote and approve ALEC model bills, which are then presented by the corporation's lobbyists to conservative lawmakers at retreats that are often paid for by taxpayers. These model bills are shopped around the country and enacted - with limited trace of money influence - in legislatures across the country, though lawmakers rarely admit that the law started as an ALEC mode bill.
ALEC became a nationwide name last year, when George Zimmerman killed Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman was able to use the "Stand Your Ground" defense to his advantage in court.
ALEC also has a sister organization - Americans United for Life (AUL) - that focuses exclusively on pro-life bills, using the same model/format as ALEC. House Bill 2, the controversial legislation that limited access to women's health care, came from AUL.
The legislation has been shopped across the country, with laws enacted in dozens of states that mirror the Texas law.
It is important to understand how these bills are shopped by ALEC & AUL because we need to know where lawmakers get their information, who is influencing their decision-making, and what role money plays in politics.
Click below to learn more specifics about the Stand Your Ground and HB 2 case studies here in Texas.