Hate is not a feminist value.

Recently state Sen. Lois Kolkhorst wrote an op-ed in my hometown paper proclaiming that “women’s rights are human rights.” I immediately bristled at the headline because I would not consider Kolkhorst to be a strong defender of women’s rights and, considering that our right-wing lieutenant governor picked her to champion Texas’ version of the discriminatory “bathroom bill,” my immediate reaction was, “No you don’t, Lois!”

My esteemed colleague Chuck Smith, executive director of Equality Texas, wrote a wonderful takedown of Kolkhorst’s article, and I encourage you to read it. The simple fact is SB 6 is about as ugly as it gets. It attacks the most vulnerable populations this state has: transgender women and transgender children. Case in point: just this last week in neighboring Louisiana, three black transgender women were murdered.

The truth is that this bill, Senate Bill 6, was originally going to be called the “Women’s Privacy Act.” Hilarious, considering that Patrick and Kolkhorst have both introduced, sponsored, and voted for multiple pieces of legislation that have restricted reproductive health care access for women, girls, transmen and gender-nonconforming people.

Conversely, I have not seen them championing legislation that would be #soprolife (if the “pro-life” movement worked at all to pass common sense policies for children once they are born) like pay equity, paid family leave, raising the minimum wage, and increasing protections for breastfeeding parents.

Women do not need Lois Kolkhorst and Dan Patrick to protect them. The justification for SB 6 feeds into outdated and harmful gender norms that paint women as helpless, vulnerable creatures that must be protected from the world. This same paternalistic worldview is behind the anti-abortion, anti-contraception policies these lawmakers promote. They do not trust women to make their own decisions. They think women need to be protected, including from themselves.

But women are strong and independent and we know when someone who is just there to use the bathroom. We are capable of smiling and nodding and going about our business in a polite way instead of shaming and attacking someone because of their gender identity. Transgender people do not present a danger to women and children, but lawmakers like Kolkhorst and Patrick do.

Discrimination is not a feminist value. Hate is not a feminist value. Lois Kolkhorst does not get to invoke women’s rights or a human rights frameworks to justify bigotry and discrimination. She and Lt. Gov. Patrick do not get to use women to advance their hateful agenda.

At NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, we fight for the human rights of all Texans, including transgender and gender-nonconforming Texans. We stand up for all Texans and we oppose SB6.

Join us in opposing SB 6 as it is heard in the Senate State Affairs committee on Tuesday, March 7, starting at 8am in E1.036.

 

Heather Busby
Executive Director

ACT NOW: Support Stronger Protections for Breastfeeding Parents, Foster Parents and Pay Equity.

At NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, we believe strongly in supporting Texas families and promoting economic & gender equity.

We often say that we’re pro-choice and pro-life because we believe that every person in this state should decide for themselves whether, when and how to parent and that no one should be forced to continue a pregnancy they cannot or do not want to continue. We support common sense policies that make contraception and preventative health care available to everyone who needs it. But we also strongly believe that every Texas family deserves to be valued and respected and we are backing all policies that provide the societal support that can improve the health and well-being of all Texas families.

Today the Texas House committee on Business & Industry will hear five bills that provide support to Texas families, allowing for greater protections for breastfeeding parents, foster parents and pay equity. We support this legislation and ask that you join us in taking action to support them now by emailing the committee chair, Rep. Rene Oliveira (D-Brownsville), and encouraging the committee to vote these bills out.

Here are the bills we’re supporting today:

HB 742 Jessica Farrar (D-Houston): Rep. Farrar’s bill would ensure the right for a mother to breast feed her child and would prohibit others from interfering in this right, such as expelling a her from a premises because she breast feeds her child. It also provides for a legal cause of action if someone interferes with a breastfeeding mother.

HB 443 Armando Walle (D-Houston): Rep. Walle’s bill also provides protection for breastfeeding mothers and would require public employers to provide a reasonable amount of break time for an employee to pump and provide a private space (that is not a bathroom) to pump.

HB 329 Mary Gonzalez (D-El Paso): Rep. Gonzalez’s bill provides for the creation of a list of “mother-friendly” worksites, which support breastfeeding mothers.

HB 228 Senfronia Thompson (D-Houston): Rep. Thompson’s bill would bring the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act to Texas. This is the same bill that Rep. Thompson and Sen. Wendy Davis passed with bipartisan support in 2013 and then-governor Rick Perry vetoed.

HB 88 Mando Martinez (D-Weslaco): Rep. Martinez’s bill would make it illegal for an employer to provide for paid leave for an employee to care for their child and not allow the same leave to care for a foster child. Given the foster care crisis in Texas today, it’s more important than ever that our Legislature develop policies that support foster families and ensure the best possible care for these vulnerable children.

Click here to send an email to the committee chair, letting him know that you support these positive bills.

Statement: Texas Senate HHS Hears Multiple Anti-Abortion Bills Designed to Shame and Stigmatize Texans

Texas Senate HHS Hears Multiple Anti-Abortion Bills Designed to Shame and Stigmatize Texans

For Release: 2-15-2017

Contact: [email protected], 214-404-8254

On Wednesday, the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services held a public hearing on three restrictive anti-abortion bills — Senate Bills 8, 258, and 415. Heather Busby, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, released the following statement

“Politicians in the Texas Legislature are once again attacking a person’s right to make their own private health care decisions. Every person’s pregnancy experience is different and people need all the options available to make the decision that’s best for them and their family.

Today’s hearing revealed once again that anti-choice politicians continue to rely on ideologues and scare tactics to peddle these baseless measures. The hearing also revealed no regard for the dignity of pregnant Texans or the legal system. All of the bills heard by the Senate today are thinly veiled attempts to ban abortion. Banning the safest methods of abortion does nothing to enhance patients’ health and safety; in fact, banning abortion methods puts people’s lives at risk. There is no room for politicians in the exam room.

Dozens of Texans testified in opposition to these bills, calling on the Legislature to stop attacking reproductive health care. Texans have shown again and again that they won’t stand for attacks on abortion access. It is long past time for anti-choice legislators to stop playing politics with health care and passing measures that put patients’ health and safety at risk and grossly intrude on the doctor-patient relationship.”

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Senate Bill 8, filed by Senators Charles Schwertner, Donna Campbell, Lois Kolkhorst, Jane Nelson and Charles Perry, would ban the donation of fetal tissue from abortion clinics for research purposes and contains a copy of an existing federal ban of a common and extremely safe abortion procedure.

Senate Bill 258, filed by Senator Don Huffines, codifies a politically motivated rule, currently enjoined by a federal judge, requiring the burial or cremation of embryonic and fetal tissue following an abortion. It would also require Texans seeking abortion to complete a state-mandated tissue disposition form prior to their abortion.
Senate Bill 415, filed by Senator Charles Perry, would ban the safest method of performing abortions later in pregnancy.

Statement on Senate Bill 20, A Ban on Private Insurance Coverage for Abortion

For Release: 2-28-2017

Contact: Sharmeen Aly, [email protected]

AUSTIN, TEXAS — Today, the Senate Business and Commerce committee took up Senate Bill 20, which would ban private insurance plans from covering abortion care. The bill also does not make exceptions for rape, incest or fetal anomalies. Heather Busby, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, released the following statement:

“Access to health care, including abortion, should not be limited by one’s income. In restricting insurance coverage for abortion, Senate Bill 20 jeopardizes Texans’ health and disproportionately impacts low-income Texans, people of color and their families, and young people.

SB 20 jeopardizes the ability of private citizens to use their own money to buy health insurance that includes abortion coverage, making it so that Texans must purchase supplemental coverage instead. No one knows in advance what surgeries or medication they may need in the future, so why do we expect Texans to know if they will need an abortion.

Having insurance coverage for abortion is important to ensure that every Texan can access the care they need in a timely manner. It is wrong for the government to place restrictions on private health insurance companies looking to offer a full range of reproductive health services, including abortion.”
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ACTION ALERT: Anti-abortion bills being heard at the #txlege

The Senate is holding a public hearing on 3 anti-abortion bills at the Capitol on Wednesday. These bills are part of a broader effort to ban abortion and shame and stigmatize the people who have them. We won’t stand for this.

1. Dust off your orange and join us at the Capitol on Wednesday to make your voice heard.There will be iPad kiosks outside of the hearing room for you to register your position and sign up to testify if you would like to. You can find suggested talking points here. We’ll also have printed copies of the talking points and orange t-shirts available on Wednesday.

2. Call the legislators behind these anti-choice bills and let them know you’re against restrictions on abortion access. See the graphic below for a phone call script.

3. Send an email to your legislators here.

Call your state senators!

Instructions for Signing Up to Register and Testify

Before registering your position, you need to know the bill number, which committee is hearing the bill and the time and location of the hearing.
The bills being heard tomorrow are SB 8, SB 258, SB 415. They are being heard by the Senate Committee on Health & Human Services. The hearing starts at 8:30 AM in the Senate Chamber, located on the second floor of the Capitol.

The committee will begin taking sign ups to register and testify at 7:45 AM tomorrow morning. If you would like to submit written testimony to the committee for consideration, please bring 20 copies of your testimony.

You can register by filling out a card that will be available near the Senate Chamber entrance. When you register your opinion at the Capitol, you will provide basic contact information, specify whether you are representing yourself or an organization, register your position on the bill (support, oppose) and indicate if you will be testifying or submitting written testimony. After registering, your position has officially been entered into public record.