The Texas GOP Wants to “Dismember Roe”

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Last week, Texas Republicans gathered at their state convention to vote on their party platform and to settle on legislative goals for the upcoming 85th legislative session.

As the Texas Tribune reports, delegates to the convention voted to approve each plank of the platform individually. Through the approval of these 266 planks of the platform, the Texas Republicans reaffirmed their commitment to regressive state policies steeped in hatred, fear, and a fundamental misunderstanding of economic and foreign policy.

Along with such gems as “homosexuality is a chosen behavior that is contrary to the fundamental unchanging truths that has (sic) been ordained by God in the Bible,” support for “an aggressive war on terrorism including… reasonable use of profiling,” and opposition to “environmentalism that obstructs legitimate business interests and private property use,” the delegates did not miss the opportunity to ensure that abortion is, again, on the top five list for lawmakers in 2017.

The anti-choice activists at Texas Right to Life raffled off an Apple Watch to attendees who came by their booth to sign a petition asking the legislature to “ban dismemberment abortions,” and tweeted their support using the hashtag #DismemberRoe.

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Think Progress identified dismemberment abortion bans as “the next anti-abortion strategy lurking around the corner” in 2015, predicting that this would be the next rallying cry for state-level anti-abortion activists across the country.

The “dismemberment abortion” ban is yet another rhetorical trick by the anti-choice movement to further restrict abortion providers by targeting mythical procedures and working anti-choice constituents into a frenzy over the purported torture of “tiny Texans.” While the resulting policies impact the ability of physicians to provide abortion care, they have no basis in medical fact.

As Think Progress reported, part of the challenge of these procedure-specific bans is that they do not use medical language or correspond to existing medical procedures, which leaves providers with the task of weeding out exactly what they are no longer allowed to do.

More insidious than the direct impact on providers is the work these campaigns do to further stigmatize abortion care in the public eye.

The very action of creating these campaigns and filing this legislation gives these concepts legitimacy. After all, why would anyone waste time trying to pass legislation around a medical procedure that doesn’t exist? Good question.

In the race to win public opinion, horrifying sound bites are an easier sell than dry, medical facts. What’s more, the anti-choice movement has so effectively spun abortion providers into liars, that any attempt to correct the narrative around the reality of abortion procedures is easily written off as a untrustworthy.

Campaigns like these are the anti-choice movement’s bread and butter. These are the well-worn tools they have honed and crafted over decades to shift public opinion, create abortion stigma and shame, and motivate TRAP laws and abortion restrictions from the state and local level to the federal government.

Right to Life’s hashtag says it all. They don’t just want to focus on individual (and fake) procedures – it’s about abolishing abortion services all together. This campaign is just the most recent incarnation of their fight to completely shut off access to abortion care in Texas.


About Author

Genevieve Cato

Genevieve Cato is a feminist activist and a native Texan. While not writing for the Burnt Orange Report, she can be found working for NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, serving as a community member of the Communications Committee for the Lilith Fund for Reproductive Equity, and drinking copious amounts of pretentious local craft beers.

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