My experience as a student of an abstinence only school

The only thing that I was taught in my “sex ed” class was the word abstinence. Yet, Texas remains as having one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in America; clearly, this method of education is ineffective. My health teacher had only once mentioned contraception methods such as condoms and birth control pills but followed with, “The ultimate contraception is abstinence.” In my 12 years of public schooling, the word abortion is yet to be spoken by any of my teachers. I have one year left, so I’ll update if that miraculously changes.

Merely thinking about abortion is regarded as sacrilege in my high school. Because of the student body’s very conservative and religious majority combined with their lack of awareness, abortion is considered the embodiment of Satan. Pro-choice students like myself must hide their beliefs from the wraths and harsh judgement of anti-choice people.

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Annika Mukherjee

These students are not bad or wrong in their beliefs, just misled. They likely assume the same beliefs as their parents, as they aren’t informed of it in school and are unable to form their own unswayed opinions, but their parents were once misled students as well, especially if they grew up in Texas. This points to an unfortunate reality: generations upon generations of uninformed students, causing recycled years of uneducated decisions and ill-conceived conclusions.

Sexual education needs to stop tiptoeing around prominent issues in our society. We must address rape because so many my age do not understand the concept of consent. We must address the importance of respecting partners and their boundaries or choices. We must face the fact that most students will not abstain, and in turn, teach safe sex. We must comprehensively acknowledge the chances of pregnancy and the option of abortion with sources of both support and opposition. We must clarify that pro-choice people are for the right of people having options to choose what they want to do with their own pregnancies. We must show that pro-choice people are not against life but against people feeling powerless when facing their futures.

When first immersing myself in this movement and developing my own opinions, I came across the famous quote: “A woman does not want an abortion like she wants an ice cream cone, a new dress, or a Porsche; she wants an abortion like an animal caught in a trap wants to gnaw off its own leg to escape.” This is an idea that is almost entirely unknown by my peers, one that changed me and one that could change many.

Students must know that the reproductive justice movement is more than abortion vs. baby; it is a fight for people and the strength of our voices. It is strongly believed that to change the future, we must change the youth. Changing sex education in Texas public schools would stop cycles of ignorance at the source and gain support for our movement.

PETITION: Tell Governor Abbott to VETO HB 3994

The time to act is now!

Gov. Abbott is expected to sign HB 3994 this week – a devastating bill that removes the only option for abused and neglected teens who need an abortion, judicial bypass. Tell Gov. Abbott to veto this cruel bill by signing the petition below.

HB 3994 has done almost everything possible to limit access to the courts for young people who are unable to involve a parent in their abortion decision. Teenagers without a parent to be found, teenagers in abusive homes and teenagers who have suffered sexual assault from a family member will no longer have a choice when it comes to an unintended pregnancy.

Thank you for speaking out to ensure that all Texans can access safe, legal and timely abortion care when they need it.

TAKE ACTION: Oppose HB 3994 and an amendment to SB 200

Update May 25, 3:20 PM: Senate passes HB 3994. 

Update May 25, 10:10 AM: The Senate has convened and HB 3994 is on the calendar. Watch our live updates on Twitter, and live stream here

Update May 24, 1:50 PM: Rep. Stickland has reportedly decided to pull his amendment to get rid of the fetal anomaly exception in the 20-week ban as SB 575 moves to the House later this week. Come to the Senate chamber doors at 6pm for a #HereForJaneTX action against #HB3994 and for a photo-op, then we’ll head into the gallery. 

Tomorrow, Sunday, May 24 at 1pm in the House, Rep. Jonathan Stickland has filed an amendment to SB 200 which removes the exemption for fetal anomalies in the ban on abortion after 20-weeks. This cruel amendment would force a pregnant person to carry a nonviable fetus to term, putting their health and future fertility in jeopardy.

Meanwhile at 6pm, the Texas Senate is set to take up HB 3994, a dangerous piece of anti-choice legislation that attacks abused and neglected teens’ access to abortion and requires all people seeking abortion to have a government ID. You can read more about the dangers of it here.

Their timing is on purpose. Lawmakers know that it’s a holiday weekend, and as deadlines loom to get bills and amendments to the floor, they’re putting these two disgusting pieces of legislation up during a time when they know people will be spending time away from the Capitol.

Let’s prove them wrong. Come to the Capitol tomorrow and wear orange: 1pm in the House gallery, then move to the Senate gallery at 6pm. Watch us on Twitter and Facebook for more updates.

Take action at the Legislature: Oppose HB 3994 and HB 416

Update 5/18/2015, 11:00 AM: HB 416 has been left pending after testimony was heard; HB 3994 is left pending and public testimony will be heard after the Senate adjourns. We’ll keep you updated on when that is!

Come to the Capitol Extension on Monday, May 18 at 8 AM for a Senate Health and Human Services Committee hearing on two anti-choice bills, HB 3994 and HB 416, in room E1.016.

This hearing allows for public testimony, so bring your written testimony to submit to the record or verbal testimony to testify in front of the committee with and/or contact your state senator. Tell lawmakers that you OPPOSE HB 3994 and HB 416!

Now that the House has officially passed its deadline to introduce new legislation, we’re going to start heading over to more Senate committees as they hear bills that have already moved through the House. Here’s a recap on how awful these bills are:

HB 3994: the very harmful bill that attacks abused and neglected teens’ access to abortion and requires all people seeking abortion to have a government ID, is set on the major state calendar on Wednesday, May 13. For more information on why judicial bypass is a safety net for teens, read this blog post from Emily Rooke-Ley, Hotline Coordinator at Jane’s Due Process.

HB 416: Relating to requiring personnel of abortion facilities and certain other facilities performing abortions to complete training on human trafficking. This bill would require abortion providers and all staff that come in contact with patients to complete a mandatory human trafficking training. First, abortion providers already provide this training to staff. This training should be required of other health providers who are far more likely to encounter trafficking survivors. Here’s more on the true intentions of this bill.

We’ll see you Monday. Don’t forget to wear your orange! #TrustTX

Take action at the Legislature: Oppose HB 3994, HB 3130 and HB 3446

Update 10:39 AM 5/14/2015: HB 3994 is up for a third reading at 11:00 AM. 

Update 6:13 PM, 5/13/2015: The House is taking up business for bills that were postponed earlier, but HB 3994 is next up on the calendar. 

Update 11:22 AM, 5/13/2015: The House is moving quickly through bills, and HB 3994 will likely be up in the next couple of hours. Come to the House gallery at the Capitol and wear orange! Live stream here.

As you may have heard, the House is taking up three harmful anti-choice bills this week. HB 3130, the House version of a ban on insurance coverage for abortion, is set on the House calendar on Tuesday, May 12. HB 3994, the very harmful bill that attacks abused and neglected teens’ access to abortion and requires all people seeking abortion to have a government ID, is set on the major state calendar on Wednesday, May 13. For more information on why judicial bypass is a safety net for teens, read this blog post from Tina Hester, Executive Director of Jane’s Due Process.

Click here to contact your state representative now to let them know you oppose HB 3130 and HB 3994!

Also on Wednesday is HB 3446, Rep. Laubenberg’s bill requiring abortion clinics to post certain signage. This bill is more targeted regulation of abortion providers.

If you would like to come to the Capitol to watch the debate, we encourage you to come on Wednesday and wear your orange shirt. On Tuesday, we cannot predict when HB 3130 will be heard. It is possible the House may not get to the bill at all that day. We also cannot give you an accurate time frame, but follow us on Twitter and Facebook for more updates on this.

This is a big week at the Legislature as Thursday is the final day for the House to pass House bills and joint resolutions (For a list of important dates and deadlines for the 84th Legislature, click here). There are a large number of bills on the calendar for the next few days. We will keep you up-to-date as things progress.

If you cannot be at the Capitol, you can always watch the live stream and follow along (or check you local cable listings to watch on TV). And don’t forget to contact your state rep now by clicking here.

If you’re at the Capitol on Tuesday, we want to alert you to a bad bill that attacks same-sex marriage rights. There are many times when other social movements intersect with reproductive rights, and that’s why we need you to oppose HB 4105, Rep. Cecil Bell’s bill that would prohibit any state or local funds from being used to issue same sex marriage licenses, which is also being heard this week. For more info on HB 4105, head on over to Equality Texas’ action page or check out the Texas Freedom Network’s blog.