STATEMENT: State Health Agency Holds Hearing on Medically Unnecessary Fetal Tissue Burial Rules

For Release: 12-11-2017

Contact: Alexa Garcia-Ditta, [email protected]exas.org

On Monday, the Health and Human Services Commission held a hearing for public comment on rules requiring burial or cremation of embryonic and fetal tissue following an abortion or miscarriage. The rules, blocked by a federal court in January, were codified into state law during the 2017 legislative session. Heather Busby, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, released the following statement —

“After passing further draconian anti-abortion measures during the regular and special legislative sessions, Texas officials still won’t let up in restricting access to health care. It is shameful that Texas has pushed ahead with rules requiring burial or cremation of fetal tissue despite an ongoing legal challenge and a failure to prove in court that these rules serve any benefit to public health or patient safety.

Texans have shown up repeatedly to oppose these medically unnecessary rules but it’s clear that our state officials want to prioritize playing politics with people’s health care rather than listen to their concerns. Our reproductive freedom is not a political football to toss around and score political points with.

Pregnant Texans deserve to make decisions about their own medical care, free from interference by anti-abortion politicians.”

Why I Give: Jeni Putalavage-Ross

2017 has been a really hard year. Every day, there was a new cause that I felt like I should be helping—natural disasters wreaked havoc around the country and the world, countless political causes needed support, and so many individuals used crowdsourcing to help get them through hard times that it was sometimes truly overwhelming. I try to support a few key causes as the foundation of my annual giving and I’ve chosen NARAL Pro-Choice Texas as my base.
I support them wholeheartedly because I believe reproductive rights are so essential and so threatened. Deciding whether or not to become a parent is arguably the biggest decision every individual has to make. Everyone deserves to make the decision about how, when and IF they want to have a child. Unfortunately, politicians in Texas and the White House are trying everything they can to limit people’s access to health care and abortion. I count on NARAL Pro-Choice Texas to represent my interests at the Legislature, keep me informed about legislative action that will impact abortion access, help inform community organizers and politicians about the facts around abortion, and expose deceptive crisis pregnancy centers (even as the state continues to fund them).

 

“Applying to Next Generation has been one of the best decisions I have ever made.”

My name is Skye Adams and I am a Next Generation fellow with NARAL Pro-Choice Texas from El Paso. In March, I was one of 17 new fellows who went to Austin for the 2017 Next Generation Summit, where we received trainings on abortion policy and messaging, toured the state Capitol, and received training on how to be better activists and advocates. Applying to Next Generation has been one of the best decisions I have ever made, and I know the knowledge and experience I have gained from volunteering with this organization will make me better for my future career.

Early last month, NARAL Pro-Choice Texas took several fellows to New Orleans for the SisterSong Let’s Talk About Sex conference. It was the experience of a lifetime seeing queer women/people of color sharing stories, sharing the struggles for reproductive justice in their communities and us learning how to be better. I would have never gotten the chance to see or attend this conference if it wasn’t for Next Generation.

In between the two trips, our El Paso Next Generation cohort has attended and held events for our community to learn more about reproductive justice, abortion, and build their advocacy and activism skills. NARAL is devoted to educating and fighting for reproductive justice, and I cannot think of many organizations that are so dedicated in this way. Being a part of Next Generation is a privilege, and I am so grateful to be part of such an impactful organization.

Click here to apply to be a 2018 Next Generation fellow!

Next Generation Fellow Highlight: Sherida Hibbard

Sherida Hibbard, 2017 Next Generation Fellow

In Lubbock, abortion is as close to a curse word as you can get without actually using profanity.  When I mention abortion, people either accuse me of being a criminal or assume that I am a liberal and hope that I’ll grow out of it.  People don’t take the time to listen to my story or find out why it is something I am so passionate about.  I grew up in a small town in north Texas where family planning was something that only “unsavory” women elected to do and raised to be conservative, proper, and “pro-life” at all costs.

I never thought I would support reproductive healthcare as a right until I found myself in need of services.  After my experience, which was awful at best, for the first time I had to examine my beliefs based not on what others told me to feel, but solely on my experience and conviction.  Prior to this point, I perpetuated the opinions I’d heard growing up and thought of it as someone else’s problem. I learned the hard way that the crisis facing reproductive healthcare is my problem.  It is the problem of anyone who has a mother, daughter, sister, or female friend, but it doesn’t stop at gender lines. I knew that something needed to happen, but I didn’t feel confident or capable.

I realized that if someone were to ask me why I feel so strongly, rather than an eloquent summary of my experience, the experience of countless women across the state, or well-thought out talking points on the state of reproductive healthcare in Texas, I would likely stare at them blankly and be unable to fully describe what I think, feel, and know.  My year as a NARAL Pro-Choice Texas Next Gen Fellow helped me not only to be more confident in my speech, but also to have the facts and information to support my feelings with data.  They equipped me and encouraged me to speak the truth that I already knew but couldn’t put in words.   My experiences with Next Generation created a feeling of sisterhood, humanity, and shared responsibility that I wouldn’t trade for anything.

Click here to apply to be part of the 2018 class of Next Generation fellows!

Mary Tuma sets the standard for reproductive health, rights and justice journalism

Reporting on reproductive rights and abortion in Texas requires a blend of compassion, commitment to people’s personal experiences while also respecting their privacy, and the guts to call out when politics are trumping public health and human rights. The Austin community and state of Texas is lucky to have all of this in reporter Mary Tuma, who we’re excited to honor at our 2017 Fall Celebration.

A graduate of the University of Texas and student reporter, Mary began her professional journalism career at the Texas Independent, and has since covered the intersection of Texas politics and abortion rights for multiple alternative media outlets. Her byline is well known currently at the Austin Chronicle, for which she covers the Texas Legislature, reproductive rights, immigration and LGBT issues.  Mary’s stories illuminate the danger of Texas’ attacks on human rights, including abortion care. She has consistently held our politicians accountable for their misplaced political priorities and has demonstrated a commitment to elevating the voices of Texans most affected by our restrictive policies. In doing so, she’s busting abortion stigma every day and normalizing the conversation in our local community.

I have been fortunate to call Mary not only a colleague but a friend since we first met in 2011 covering our first legislative sessions. While other reporters and media outlets were chasing the clickbait-y headline of the day, Mary was focused on true investigative journalism. She’s dug deep into crisis pregnancy centers to help expose their shady practices. She’s covered every twist and turn of legal challenges to Texas’ abortion laws and spent time in the most affected communities. Her approach to journalism sets the standard for abortion reporting in our state, and I hope you’ll join me in honoring her this week at our Fall Celebration. Click here for tickets.

—Alexa Garcia-Ditta