Next Generation Fellow Spotlight: Sarah Gonzalez Claytor

By Sarah Gonzalez Claytor, 2018 Next Generation Fellow 

Originally from California, I feel fortunate to have grown up in a family where abortion was not a controversial topic. I don’t quite recall when I learned what it was, but my parents took it as a matter of fact that abortion was a medical decision between a womanand her doctor, and others’ opinions on the matter should not interfere with that decision.

When I got to Texas, I was already familiar with its hostile reputation towards women, people of color, and LGBTQ folk. Luckily for me, I fall into the Venn diagram of all 3, so I was highly motivated to tap into my communities of support. I volunteered with Planned Parenthood and the Austin chapter of the National Organization for Women, phone banking and GOTVing and protesting CPCs, and feeding my fire to fight on.

There is a rich history and resilient spirit in Texas activism, unlike anything else I’ve experienced. I’ve watched with anger and dismay over the years as medically unnecessary legislation has reduced the number of open clinics drastically. But I’ve also seen organizations like NARAL Pro-Choice Texas rise up again and again to defend access to abortion.

Now more than ever, we need passionate, informed activists to organize and lift up abortion access. The Next Generation program has brought me together with other young people to learn and grow together as advocates for reproductive justice.  These connections are one of the most valuable parts of Next Gen. I also appreciate the policy and advocacy experience that NARAL Pro-Choice TX is passing on to us.

The decision to have a child is momentous and life-changing. And the right to make that decision is a basic human right. I’m pro-abortion because nobody should have to have a child against their will, and I’ll keep advocating for reproductive rights until everyone in Texas and beyond has access to safe and legal abortions.

STATEMENT: HHSC Ends Contracts with Anti-Abortion Organization

For Release: 10-12-2018

Contact: Sharmeen Aly, [email protected]

HHSC Ends Contracts with Anti-Abortion Organization

AUSTIN, TX — Today, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission announced that they are terminating their contracts with the Heidi Group, an anti-abortion organization that provided no health care at the time of the award. NARAL Pro-Choice Texas has repeatedly criticized the state’s decision to award the Heidi Group and other unqualified providers this funding. Aimee Arrambide, executive director at NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, released the following statement —

“The Heidi Group was never remotely qualified to provide reproductive health care to tens of thousands of Texans in need. Yet, the state went to extremes to withhold funds from qualified providers in order to award undeserved millions of taxpayer dollars to an ideological, anti-choice organization with ties to fake women’s health centers. Family planning dollars should go directly to medical providers who have experience providing family planning and preventive care services, not anti-abortion organizations that aim to coerce and manipulate.

“Even as the HHSC has taken this step in terminating their contracts with the Heidi Group, they continue to fund ideological organizations committed to banning abortion that provide no licensed health care to the tune of $38 million.

“We encourage the Legislature to remove the restrictions on qualified providers from participating in these programs in order to prevent this sort of waste in the future.”

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STATEMENT: U.S. Senate Confirms Brett Kavanaugh to Supreme Court

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For Release: 10-6-2018

Contact: Sharmeen Aly, [email protected]

U.S. Senate Confirms Brett Kavanaugh to Supreme Court

AUSTIN, TX — Today, the United States Senate voted 50-48 to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. Aimee Arrambide, executive director at NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, released the following statement —

“Today is a dark day in the history of our nation. Brett Kavanaugh should have never been nominated to serve on our country’s highest court, and his confirmation is a travesty for all Americans. It is shameful that Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz failed to stand up and protect Texans and their families in the face of credible and disqualifying allegations against Kavanaugh.

“Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings made it clear that he will be a vote to end Roe v. Wade, or gut it by ignoring the precedent in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt and allow the Texas Legislature free rein to criminalize abortion and punish pregnant Texans. According to an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released after Kavanaugh’s nomination, support for Roe v. Wade has hit an all-time high, with 71% of American voters stating that they do not want Roe overturned.

“Our fight does not end with today’s vote. Together with the majority of Americans who support access to abortion, we will continue to fight back against the attacks on our fundamental rights and freedoms.”

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A Texan’s experience at a fake women’s health center

I am a 44 years old woman and had the worst experience of my life at Birth Choice in Dallas, Texas. I had not had a period in about a year and my gynecologist told me I was in perimenopause so I wasn’t as diligent about it as I had been in the past. Other than fatigue, I had absolutely no pregnancy symptoms..

My husband and I decided to take a pregnancy test to rule out why I was constantly exhausted. My heart sank when I saw the plus sign on the test before the 5 minutes were even up and we went into immediate panic mode. We headed to what we thought was Southwestern Women’s Surgery Center, a local abortion clinic. Southwestern and Birth Choice share a parking lot (a common tactic of fake clinics) and my husband and I walked into Birth Choice by accident.

Once there, I took a urine test to confirm the pregnancy and was told I needed an ultrasound to determine how far along I was. At that point, the nurse separated my husband and I, saying that my husband needed to meet with the male counselor. During the ultrasound, I repeatedly asked for my husband to be in the room with me, but the nurse insisted that I was in a “safe place” and my husband couldn’t make the decision for me to have an abortion.

The ultrasound results showed that I was 26 weeks pregnant with a “healthy baby boy” and a “special miracle,” even though I had told the nurse this was an unwanted pregnancy. She told me she could immediately make a phone call and place the baby with a family. Meanwhile, my husband was getting the same treatment from the male “counselor.” The “counselor” even told my husband that families paid “$50,000 for a white baby!” They finally brought him into the room where I was still enduring looking at the 70 inch ultrasound screen. When he walked in, the nurse greeted him with, “congratulations daddy, it’s a boy!”  The male “counselor” came into the room with a doll that he described as a 26-week gestation baby and blocked the door as my husband and I tried to leave. We managed to make it out but they chased after us, yelling about not killing the baby and how much God loves us.

This experience left me totally shaken and an absolute mess; I threw up all the way home. I was able to see my gyno the following Monday and thankfully, she had some answers. I was in fact 26 weeks pregnant, but the baby was far from healthy. She explained that I couldn’t get an abortion in Texas due to how far along I was and contacted a clinic in New Mexico. We were lucky enough to travel there a few days later and terminate the pregnancy, which was the decision we had made from the start.

S.H. lives in Dallas, Texas. To learn more about fake women’s health centers and their deceptive tactics, visit txpregnancy.org