A letter from our executive director

Heather BusbyIn late 2012, I came into my role as Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas on the heels of the Texas Legislature gutting the family planning infrastructure and amping up attacks on abortion access. I’d been taking calls on the abortion fund hotline and hearing firsthand how the sonogram law and the 24-hour waiting period were affecting the most vulnerable people in our state. From day one of my coming into this position, my goal was to do whatever I could to play a part to revitalize a resistance to the anti-choice agenda. I had a vision for building a strong organization and strong movement for reproductive health, rights, and justice in Texas.

I always saw my role as part of a transition, the bridge between a difficult period and the beginning of a strong long-term movement that will not settle for less than a society that honors all reproductive decisions, free from barriers, shame, and stigma. A movement that supports every person in Texas to decide for themselves whether, when, and how to parent and to do so with the support of their community.

I am heartened by the strong, diverse movement for reproductive health, rights, and justice emerging in Texas and nationally. And the goals I set out to achieve have for the most part been accomplished: we have a strong, growing majority of people across Texas speaking out for abortion access, family planning, and support for Texas families. I know the time is right make room for new leadership to take this movement to the next level. Therefore, I will be stepping down as executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas at the end of March 2018.

I am grateful to have this opportunity and I know there is a wealth of talented individuals ready to take on this challenge, especially among the people of color who are making important changes and improvements in the movement for reproductive health, rights, and justice.

When I took the helm of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, I could have never envisioned that seven months later I’d be part of building the “unruly orange mob” that came forth to make it possible for Sen. Wendy Davis to filibuster an omnibus abortion bill. I would never have predicted that our partners at Whole Woman’s Health would take the fight all the way to the Supreme Court, in one of the strongest decisions supporting access to abortion since Roe.

It has been an incredible ride and the greatest pride of my life to be part of this movement. I have had the honor of traveling around this great state over the past five years and seeing firsthand the spirit and resilience that lives in communities large and small. This movement’s strength does not reside in the state capital; it breathes fire in places like Lubbock and Waco, Brownsville and Bastrop.

NARAL Pro-Choice Texas has been a leader in protecting access to reproductive health in Texas for 40 years. This is a time of transition, but more than that it is an exciting opportunity for the organization and I eagerly anticipate where the next leader will take us.

In the past five years, the organization’s budget has increased by 500% and I am confident the next leader will continue to grow and strengthen this organization. I want to thank our members for continuing to support NARAL Pro-Choice Texas at this significant turning point in the organization’s history, so we can remain strong for the years to come.

I am so grateful to all the people who have been part of this movement over the past five years. Thank you to everyone who has sent an email or made a phone call to your elected officials, to everyone who has come to a lobby day or a rally or signed a petition. Every person I’ve met as I’ve traveled from El Paso to Houston, Plano to McAllen, has kept me going when this work has been incredibly hard. You are this movement and you are all leaders in your communities. Thank you for the love you have shown me and for continuing to support the important work of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas.

With love and solidarity,

Heather Busby

Click here for more information our search for a new executive director.




STATEMENT: Texas Officials Continue Attacks on Abortion Care During Interim

Texas Officials Continue Attacks on Abortion Care During Interim

For Release: 2-21-2018

Contact: Sharmeen Aly, [email protected]

Today, the Texas Senate Committee on State Affairs met for an interim hearing to discuss granting the Attorney General power to prosecute abortion clinics and further target abortion care. Alexa Garcia-Ditta, communications director at NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, released the following statement —

“Today, Texas officials continued their relentless attack on abortion care. Wednesday’s hearing was another attempt by Texas to push a national agenda intended to end abortion care entirely and put essential healthcare out of reach for people across the state. There is no evidence that local district attorneys are refusing to prosecute violations of state law.

Ken Paxton’s proposal would give anti-abortion politicians like him more power, while further stigmatizing health care. Further, the Office of the Attorney General has no business usurping the power of locally elected district attorneys to politicize qualified clinics providing safe and dignified care to their communities.

Today’s hearing continued the state’s push for a national agenda that targets abortion providers and stigmatizes abortion care. Regulating abortion clinics differently than any other medical clinic only prevents people from accessing the health care they need. Abortion is one of the safest medical procedures in the country and is an essential component of health care—it’s time Texas officials treated it as such.”


NARAL Pro-Choice Texas applauds Austin City Council for passing Paid Sick Days for All Austin Workers

Alexa Garcia-DittaAfter nearly five hours of testimony, the Austin City Council voted 9 to 2 in support of a paid sick day ordinance that will guarantee every Austin worker the opportunity to accrue paid sick time. NARAL Pro-Choice Texas and our reproductive health, rights and justice partners organized supporters, visited city council members and rallied with the Work Strong Austin coalition for several weeks urging council member to pass the measure. This ordinance will affect thousands of Austin workers and families and make abortion care more accessible in our community.

Alexa Garcia-Ditta, our communications director, delivered the following testimony at the February 15 hearing:

Good evening, Mayor Adler and council members. Thank you so much for the opportunity to speak today.

My name is Alexa Garcia-Ditta and I’m the communications director at NARAL Pro-Choice Texas. As a small nonprofit employer, NARAL Pro-Choice Texas is proud to live our progressive values by providing paid sick time and paid time off to our employees. For 40 years, our statewide policy and advocacy organization has been working toward a future where every Texan has access to abortion care free from political interference, shame and stigma. We also organize in local Texas communities, like Austin, to rally support for abortion access and policy and grassroots initiatives that ensure reproductive justice for all.

We’re here on behalf of our nearly 20,000 Austin supporters to urge you all to vote YES on the proposed paid sick day ordinance without any delays.

Every Austin worker deserves the opportunity to take time to attend medical appointments—including abortion care—time to take care of an injury, condition or sickness, and time to seek medical attention or legal action following an incident of domestic violence or sexual assault, for themselves or their family member, without fear of losing their jobs or wages.

This is a reproductive, economic and racial justice issue. It is a feminist value, and it is a family value.

As you know, over the last several years the Legislature has mounted a devastating attack on reproductive health care, including abortion and contraception, in our state. With fewer abortion clinics forcing more Texans to travel for services and a state-mandated 24-hour waiting period, working Texans must take, at minimum, two days off of work to access abortion care. Many people are unable to take that time off and are forced to delay care, making abortion more expensive. In addition, due to discriminatory coverage bans, abortion care is not covered by state, federal, or private insurance in Texas. This means that people seeking abortion in Texas have to unjustly pay out of pocket.

We’re grateful to Council Members Casar, Kitchen, Garza and Mayor Pro Tem Tovo for championing this ordinance because it is a simple way to make abortion care more accessible in our community and ensure people won’t be forced to further delay their care and rack up additional out-of-pocket costs. We’d also like to thank Mayor Adler, Council Members Renteria and Flannigan for expressing your support.

Unsurprisingly, a lack of paid sick leave disproportionately affects women. Women make up the backbone of families and increasingly are the primary earners in their households. They are also more likely to be in lower wage jobs or jobs without any paid leave. Forty-three percent of women working in the private sector are not able to take a single paid sick day when they are ill. Fifty four percent of Latina workers and 42 percent of African American women who work are not able to earn paid sick days. More than half of working mothers (54 percent) do not have even a few paid sick days they can use to care for their sick children.

No one should have to choose between seeking medical care and not being able to pay the light bill. No pregnant person should be forced to delay their abortion care because they can’t take time off work. No mother should have to choose between caring for her sick child and buying groceries. No one should be forced to come to work sick and infect everyone they come into contact with just so they can make rent that month.

Thank you for your time this evening and for considering this critical reproductive justice policy.

We urge you to live Austin’s progressive values, stand with Austin women and vote YES in support the proposed paid sick day ordinance without delay.

STATEMENT: Texans Rise Up to Protect the Promise of Roe v. Wade

AUSTIN, TX — Today marks the 45th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision that guaranteed our constitutional right to an abortion. However, as we commemorate this historic anniversary, we also continue to push back against a political landscape that has put abortion even further out of reach for pregnant people who are low-income, undocumented, live in rural areas and are under the age of 18. Heather Busby, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, released the following statement —

“Despite the fact that the majority of people in this country support the right to safe, legal abortion care, anti-choice politicians in Texas passed seven more laws in 2017 alone that restrict access to abortion and federal officials continue to prevent undocumented teenagers in already vulnerable situations from accessing abortion care. Texans who seek abortion face a mountain of barriers, all of which disproportionately impact people of color. Without true access to abortion, the right to choose is meaningless.

Despite these obstacles, we see hope in the Texans who continue to rise up every day to protect the promise of Roe. From showing up again and again to protest anti-abortion bills at the Capitol to funding people seeking essential health care in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, Texans have made it clear that they won’t stay silent against the constant attacks on their reproductive rights.

Our constitutional rights are not up for debate and NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, alongside people across the state, will continue to work tirelessly to protect the promise of Roe that we celebrate today.”

Protecting the Promise of Roe v. Wade

Alexa Garcia-DittaFor 45 years, Roe v. Wade has preserved the legal right to an abortion in the United States. But that hasn’t stopped Texas politicians from pushing abortion out of reach for pregnant people who are low-income, live in rural areas and are under the age of 18. Anti-abortion state lawmakers passed seven restrictions in 2017 alone. These new laws, in combination with the 14 restrictions passed since 2013, are only adding to the mountain of barriers Texans face when seeking abortion care, all of which disproportionately impact people of color. Nationally, the federal Hyde Amendment—which bans federal health programs, including Medicaid, from covering abortion care—remains on the books and continues to make abortion unaffordable for low-income people.

In 1978, a group of Texans founded NARAL Pro-Choice Texas to fight back against the neverending attacks on abortion care that followed the historic 1973 Supreme Court ruling. As we celebrate our 40th anniversary this year, we are rising up to protect the true promise of Roe—a future of dignity and respect where our decisions are our own.

Since our inception, we have fought for a future where all Texans can make their own health care decisions, including decisions about abortion, free of political interference. Unfortunately, anti-abortion state politicians have passed onerous clinic requirements, laws requiring medically unnecessary procedures like sonograms and 24-hour waiting periods, on top of bans on insurance coverage for abortion. In the face of these attacks, our legislative team has shown up to session after session to testify, rally our supporters and work with our legislative champions to combat the opposition’s dangerous anti-abortion agenda. Partners and legislators rely on our expertise and storied history of fighting for reproductive freedom in Texas, turning to us for the latest research and analysis on how policies will impact our state. We also consistently hold our state leadership and agencies accountable by tracking taxpayer funding for crisis pregnancy centers and calling out their true intention for passing anti-abortion laws—putting health care out of reach for Texans.

Year after year, we train emerging reproductive justice leaders to rise up for Roe and fight for abortion access for everyone in Texas. And we are growing our work by tapping into local power, focusing on building support for abortion access in municipalities across the state.

NARAL Pro-Choice Texas will continue to rise up for Roe by fighting alongside our partners to achieve reproductive freedom for everyone in Texas. We pledge to work tirelessly for another 40 years to protect the promise of Roe that we celebrate today.

—Alexa Garcia-Ditta