Republicans Vow to “Redouble” Efforts to End Abortion in Texas

Monday’s Supreme Court ruling was an incredible victory for Texans’ health and safety–and it doesn’t stop there. Not only does the decision mean that Texas abortion clinics can stay open, it has far-reaching impacts that effect people across the country. Following the decision, the Supreme Court declined challenges from Wisconsin and Mississippi that would have led to the implementation of similar restrictions in those states, protecting clinics and providers.

While this win is a turning point in the fight for reproductive freedom, it is also fueling anti-choice activists in their preparation for legislative session in January. Show your support for pro-choice policies with a donation today.

In a tweet, Governor Greg Abbott vowed to “redouble” his commitment to restricting abortion access.

And he isn’t alone. During a press conference in Houston, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick told reporters, “We’re going to go through [the decision] line by line and see what it is that we can address in a way that a Supreme Court would approve.” Whatever the outcome of this, he assured them, “We will be all in.”

Prominent anti-choice activists echoed Patrick, saying that “this ruling will help us to focus on what our goal is,” moving forward.

They pledged to pass a procedural ban in the upcoming legislative session, which would disrupt providers’ ability to provide basic medical care should it succeed.

Building upon the Planned Parenthood witch-hunts, they plan to focus on “the state interest about fetal life.” Citing precedent from a Supreme Court ruling in 2007, it is clear that they believe that procedure bans and restrictions focused on “fetal life” will be harder to challenge.

And it isn’t just legislation. Speaking on their Facebook page, a representative from a statewide anti-choice group said, “We need our cultural conversation to be about the pre-born child, not about how many miles it takes to get to an abortion clinic.”

Anti-choice activists in Texas are doubling down on their efforts in Texas. They have a plan in place to shift not only state laws, but also conversations around abortion in Texas.

We can’t let this happen, but we can’t stop it without you. Can you donate today to support proactive, pro-choice policy at the Texas legislature?

NARAL Pro-Choice Texas is already leading the fight for reproductive freedom in Texas, and we aren’t going to let them steal this win. We are actively working to challenge abortion stigma in Texas, stigma fosters the environment that allows harmful abortion restrictions to flourish.

What to do after the Supreme Court decision on House Bill 2

Not sure what’s going on with this case? Find a breakdown of what to expect here.

Update: VICTORY! House Bill 2 is gone. Here’s what the ruling means for Texans who need abortion care:

  1. Clinics will be able to continue operating, and possibly re-open, without having to make costly and unnecessary changes to their facilities

  2. Providers will no longer have to wait for admitting privileges in order to provide abortion care

  3. No more clinics will close due to House Bill 2

Read our statement here and read below for information about events happening around Texas today as well as a tele-town hall happening tomorrow.

As we wait for the Supreme Court to decide Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedtthe case challenging HB 2–we want  to make sure everyone is in the loop about happenings around the state on decision day and beyond.

We now know that the decision will be this Monday, 6/27. 

The Supreme Court convenes at 10 AM EST (so 9 AM CST and 8 AM MST for us Texans) and starts to release opinions. In other words, we’ll know in the morning on decision day and we’ll spread the word about what the opinion means as soon as we can. Whether we’re celebrating or mourning, we’ll be doing it together.

Here’s where to gather on decision day:

Austin – Scholz Garten, 5:30pm

Dallas – Dallas City Hall, 5:30pm

El Paso – El Paso County Courthouse, 12:00pm (noon)

Ft. Worth – Location to be announced (but you can still RSVP here), 5:30pm

Houston – Planned Parenthood Gulf coast, 5:30pm/R-Bar, 7:00pm

McAllen – Whole Woman’s Health McAllen, 6:00pm

San Antonio – Location to be announced, 4:30pm

Waco – Location to be announced (but you can still RSVP here), 5:30pm

The day after the decision comes out (Tuesday, June 28), we’ll have a telephone town hall that anyone can join featuring Wendy Davis, Ilyse Hogue, Amy Hagstrom Miller, Yamani Hernandez, Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas and Nancy Northrup.

Sign up here to get invited to the tele-town hall and get the latest on the decision and events happening in the hours, days, weeks after the decision comes out!

Shockingly, the Legislature invited actual scientists and doctors to a hearing about fetal tissue

You’re not going to believe what happened at the Texas State Capitol this week. The House State Affairs Committee held a hearing on fetal tissue research and invited actual doctors and researchers from public universities to testify – people who actually carry out the research that leads to things like polio vaccines and better health outcomes for premature infants and children with congenital health conditions. The Texas Senate held a similar hearing last summer and invited a parade of anti-abortion extremists to testify. Rather than a serious inquiry, that hearing was nothing more than a chance for politicians like Ken Paxton, accused felon, to espouse their anti-choice views.

Of course, anti-abortion proponents still got their moment in the sun and kicked off this week’s hearing with ridiculous lies about fetal tissue collection and abortion clinics, including a whopper about tissue being stored in the refrigerator next to Chinese food leftovers (an accusation Department of State Health services staff later refuted).

It’s the same rhetoric that created a space for these hearings in the first place. This hearing comes after the Center for Medical Progress created a fake biomedicine charity and broke the law to get videos that they heavily edited and used to disparage Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers. In January, a Harris County grand jury investigation into Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast—an action Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick pushed—concluded their investigations clearing the health care provider of any wrongdoing and instead indicted David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt, the activists behind the smear campaign.  So basically, anti-abortion activists tried to make Planned Parenthood look bad, broke the law to do it and got caught. But the indictments haven’t stopped anti-abortion groups and politicians from continuing to use the videos to spread malicious lies about abortion providers, pushing for unnecessary and harmful legislation in their witch hunts.

After the two anti-abortion extremists set the stage with outrageous claims like “some would question whether or not an abortive mother has the capacity to consent,” it was time for some facts to enter the conversation from people who are actual doctors and scientists that base their beliefs in reality. First up: Dr. Raymond Greenberg, Executive Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs at the University of Texas. Dr. Greenberg testified that fetal tissue is used in research to better understand how to care for infants facing serious health issues, including infants who are born prematurely and infants who have congenital heart problems. In other words, fetal tissue research leads to advancements in medicine that improve babies’ health and in some cases, is the only viable approach in research to treat sick babies – meaning actual born children benefit from this research.

Dr. Greenberg also refuted the misconception that abortion clinics profit off fetal tissue research. The sale of tissue is illegal, but clinics receive reimbursements for costs associated with transport and storage. Dr. Greenberg testified that he’d seen reimbursement amounts never more than a couple hundred dollars, a relatively low amount compared to other medical costs, and it’s important to note that Texas abortion clinics are not even participating in fetal tissue research. Planned Parenthood has said it has not done this since 2010. The issue of profit motive is a nonstarter (although it’s a talking point that the anti-choice movement loves to peddle over and over and over again).

Next up, representatives from the Department of State Health Services: Commissioner John Hellerstedt and Kathy Perkins, assistant commissioner for regulatory services. Perkins testified about the random inspections at abortion clinics and that issues found in abortion clinics do not stand out among state inspections of other health care facilities, directly contradicting some of the anti-abortion extremists’ wild accusations. She assured the panel that they had found no incidents of Chinese food leftovers sitting alongside fetal tissue in refrigerators and, in fact, there was only one administrative violation at an abortion clinic in 2015.

While it’s frustrating that lies about abortion and fetal tissue donation are still getting airtime, it was refreshing to see a hearing primarily comprised of experts and doctors. Chairman Byron Cook’s closing suggestion that the committee look into outlawing using fetal tissue from elective abortions for research gives a glimpse at what we can expect to see at the Texas Legislature next session. The suggestion is troubling, but NARAL Pro-Choice Texas will be there to fight back against any attacks on abortion care and we hope you’ll be there with us.

Want to help us hold Texas lawmakers accountable and make reproductive health care more accessible? Join our Legislative Action Team!

Want to see TRAPPED? Here are all of the screening dates and locations in Texas.

Consistently rated as one of the best documentaries to come out this year, Trapped  sets aside abortion stigma and shows viewers how abortion providers truly are: brave, compassionate medical professionals who bring abortion care to communities that need it most, often in the face of state legislatures and lawmakers that want to see them shut down.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eY9b2Lcmh5k

Trapped has started screening across Texas this month. Here are all of the dates and locations where you can go see it:

San Antonio
Alamo Drafthouse Cinema
Wednesday, March 30 at 6:30 PM
Organized by NOW (National Organization for Women) and Medical Students for Choice
Tickets and RSVP

Houston
Hilton University of Houston Hotel and Conference Center
Tuesday, April 5 at 6:00 PM
Organized by NARAL Pro-Choice Texas and UH WGRC
A panel after the film will include Ana Rodriguez from The Lilith Fund for Reproductive Equity, reproductive justice activist Eesha Pandit, and Director of Marketing and PR for Whole Woman’s Health Fatimah Gifford.
Tickets and RSVP

Austin
Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar
Tuesday, April 12 at 6:00 PM
Organized by NARAL Pro-Choice Texas and The Lilith Fund
A panel after the film will include Marva Sadler of Whole Woman’s Health (also featured in the film), Ana Rodriguez of Lilith Fund, and a representative of Bridge Collective.
Tickets and RSVP

El Paso
UTEP Union Cinema
Saturday, April 23 at 6:30 PM
Organized by West Fund and URGE
The screening will feature a panel afterwards of activists and clinic staff who will discuss the film and the impact of TRAP laws, including HB2, on the people of Texas.
Tickets and RSVP

McAllen
Cine El Ray
Thursday, April 28 at 6 PM
Organized by Feministxs Unidxs, The Progressive Young Democrats at UTRGV, UTRGV’s Texas Freedom Network, and UTRGV’s URGE: Unite for Reproductive & Gender Equity
Tickets and RSVP

Austin
Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar
Tuesday, May 3 at 7:00 PM
Organized by The Lilith Fund and Fund Texas Choice
A panel discussion will happen before the film screens.
Tickets and RSVP

More dates will be added in the coming weeks! Did we miss a screening date? Send us an email at [email protected].

To most people, the RG​V is a symbol of the tragedy of this law. To me, it’s home.

This is a guest post from Melissa Aronja.  

The day Whole Woman’s Health closed in McAllen, Texas was a sobering experience.

It was March 2014, and no one at the time knew if the Rio Grande Valley would ever have an abortion clinic again. At the closing vigil held outside the clinic, each person in attendance read some of the personal experiences of Whole Woman’s Health patients. They were stories written by immigrants, students, people going through divorce and people who had experienced sexual assault. Local anti-choicers were gathered across the street and cheered in celebration.

The months that followed — the months in which some of the poorest counties in the United States were left without abortion access — were surreal and directly affected people I know.

I was in Austin in 2013 when the Texas Legislature voted to move forward with HB 2, and I’ve seen the effects of the terrible legislation first-hand. Being in D.C. during the oral arguments for Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt is important to me. The constant attacks on Whole Woman’s Health are personal. The loss of abortion access during those awful six months in 2014 is personal. Will you chip in and help me carry my voice all the way to the Supreme Court?MelissaAronja

Six months after it initially closed, Whole Woman’s Health was allowed to reopen. On that day, I awoke to texts from friends who were helping the clinic finish setting up. Anti-choice protesters were not happy about the clinic’s reopening; volunteers were needed immediately to help get patients safely inside the building, so I rushed to the clinic. Over the next couple of weeks, our little group hit the ground running, figuring out the logistics of clinic escorting amidst a crowd of very aggressive protestors from the local crisis pregnancy center. Not only were they upset that Whole Woman’s Health had reopened, they were positively furious that clinic escorts were now present on “their” turf.

Then, the clinic was temporarily forced to close again. That weekend, I organized a last-minute demonstration outside our closed clinic. We’d had enough. Only about twelve people showed up, but pictures from that demonstration have since made their way into publications all around the world. South Texans for Reproductive Justice was born.

Looking back on our first demonstration as South Texans for Reproductive Justice, I’m incredibly proud of how far our grassroots movement has come in the wake of HB 2. At the end of January 2016, the annual Roe v. Wade anti-choice parade made its way to Whole Woman’s Health. Hundreds of anti-choicers were met by hundreds of pro-choice supporters. We had enough people to line both sides of the street, preventing the parade from surrounding the clinic during operating hours as they had done in the past.

Before HB 2, the Rio Grande Valley didn’t even register on most people’s radars. Now, it’s part of one of the biggest abortion rights cases in history. To most people, the RG​V is a symbol of the tragedy of this law. To me, it’s home. This court case has the power to permanently impact my friends and family, and I can’t let this happen without a fight. Can you pitch in to help me take my fight against HB 2 to Washington, D.C.?