“I’m not done fighting back against HB 2.”

This is a guest post from Chelsea Paquette. 

2013 was a remarkable year for me. I started the year off feeling generally uninspired and burned out in my career. I was also unhappy socially and was exhausted by my chronic love-hate relationship with my home state, as many progressive Texans often are.  At 25 years old, I thought I was done with Texas. It turns out, I hadn’t even started yet.

That summer I heard through social media that the Texas Legislature proposed a set of anti-abortion Chelsea Paquettemeasures that could effectively shut down all but a handful of abortion clinics and that prolonging the legislative process was our only chance at stopping the measures. Understanding the gravity of the situation, I knew I needed to testify.

I was one of hundreds of people from across the state who showed up at the Texas Capitol and waited 14 hours to testify against further restrictions on abortion care. That summer I found myself driving to and from Austin, pulling all-nighters before returning home to Houston for work the next morning. I testified, marched, rallied, worked as jail support and sat as a witness in the House and Senate galleries every chance I could because I was able to and it mattered.

After my time spent at the Capitol, I felt inspired and ethically obligated to stay in Texas. I knew I wanted to go all in. I quit my job, enrolled in school and really threw myself into the reproductive justice movement. I have since worked as a voter registrar, volunteered for the Wendy Davis and other political campaigns, volunteered at abortion clinics, became a fellow in NARAL Pro-Choice Texas’ Next Generation Program and even began sharing my own abortion story.

I need help getting Texas activists like me to our nation’s capital. Can you pitch in to make sure my voice is heard in D.C.?

To follow HB 2, a devastating and unconstitutional piece of legislation which I fought from the beginning, from the halls of the Texas Capitol to the Supreme Court of the United States is a once in a lifetime opportunity. I am working toward a political science degree and am currently enrolled in University of Houston’s Paralegal Program. The chance to see the highest court in action is exciting and would be an amazing learning opportunity for my future law career. And as an activist, it would be an honor.

I’m not done fighting back against HB 2. Can you help me get to Washington D.C. for the oral arguments at the Supreme Court?

Anti-choicers don’t know what to do when something doesn’t go their way

Monday was a huge win for Planned Parenthood and for reproductive freedom. We finally saw justice when David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt – heads of the Center for Medical Progress and orchestrators of the undercover and heavily edited videos recorded at Planned Parenthood locations across the country – were indicted by a Houston grand jury while the health care provider was cleared of any criminal wrongdoing. The indictment was the exact opposite of what Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick wanted when they ordered the Houston DA to open up the investigation in July, making it quite the glorious plot twist in this ongoing sting operation.

Anti-choice lawmakers and organizations quickly denounced the outcome and reenergized their usual victim narrative, so much so that “pro-life” Houston DA Devon Anderson, who was endorsed by Texas Right to Life in 2014 and was in charge of the investigation into Planned Parenthood, went on camera on Thursday to explain how the justice system works for all of the grown adults in charge who can’t seem to understand (via KHOU):

“The inconvenient truth of a criminal investigation is that it doesn’t always lead where you wanna go. Anyone who pays attention knows that I’m pro-life. I believe abortion is wrong. But my personal belief does not relieve me of my obligation to follow the law.”

-Harris County DA Devon Anderson

Gov. Abbott even went on to say in an interview with WFAA that “the grand jury made no decision whatsoever about what Planned Parenthood did”, even though, if you’re following along, the grand jury did in fact make a decision about what Planned Parenthood did not do. Meanwhile, defense lawyers for Daleiden and Merritt continue to say that the indictments were given by a “runaway grand jury”, and that sneaking into a Planned Parenthood facility with fake IDs and hidden cameras somehow makes their clients journalists, granting them protection under the 1st Amendment.

The tantrums are expected. These folks have spent years building a system that’s designed to work in their favor – one where every time the anti-choice contingent in Texas wants the state government to do something for them, all they have to do is ask. So when someone actually does their job and serves justice where it’s due, anti-choicers will naturally default to their old tactic of ignoring reality and continuing the made-up fervor. What else do you do when your movement isn’t based in science or fact?

As Andrea Grimes put it in the Texas Observer, scoring an indictment against Planned Parenthood “was never really the point” for these people:

“The point was the noise. The froth. The media circus. The reporters who jump to be the first to catch images of state agents raiding clinics.

The truth is an afterthought.”

While we should count this indictment as a moment of vindication, it’s important to keep in mind that there are still two other investigations into Planned Parenthood happening in Texas, one of which is being conducted by the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, the same Senate in which Dan Patrick presides.

In all likelihood the Legislature won’t find that Planned Parenthood did anything wrong, and the lawmakers in charge probably expect that, but they’ve already cut the organization from the Breast and Cervical Cancer Screenings program as well as from the HIV Prevention Program in the last year alone because some Planned Parenthood locations also provide abortion services.

This smear campaign isn’t over yet, and its motives remain clear: continue to vilify reproductive health care providers, increase abortion stigma and put barriers between people and the health care they need in the process.

I need your help to get activists like me to our nation’s capital.

I have always been firmly pro-choice, but I have to admit, I was unaware of how much power our state legislature has to restrict and essentially deny access to abortion, even though it is a right the U.S. Supreme Court validated decades ago. When HB2 passed in 2013, I immediately began to question the scope and reach of Texas government. I was appalled that they could so easily deny thousands of people reproductive health care. I felt compelled to take action.

Since HB 2’s passage, I have dedicated myself to reproductive justice. As a member of Next Generation Pro-Choice Texas, I strive to talk about abortion as often as I can. Bringing up abortion in everyday conversation makes it more familiar and reduces the stigma surrounding the procedure.

HB 2 may be law, but the fight is far from over. Will you help me fight back against HB 2 in Washington D.C.?

In Roe v. Wade the Supreme Court recognized a right to abortion based on a case out of Texas. Forty-three years later, HB 2 is heading to the Supreme Court and the court must decide if the Texas Legislature’s justifications for restricting abortion access meet the “undue burden” test established by Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

Texas is once again in the limelight and it’s important that the Supreme Court knows that Texans support access to abortion. Texans know a right without access is no right at all. I want to make sure our voices are heard in D.C., which is why I want to be there for the oral arguments in March. I need your help to get activists like me to our nation’s capital. Will you help pitch in to make sure Texans’ voices are heard?

Adriano Kristian Pérez: Can you help Texas activists like me get to D.C. for the Supreme Court hearing?

When former Texas Governor Rick Perry called a special session in 2013 to further restrict abortion it was evident that many of our state’s leaders would stop at nothing to deprive Texans of the freedom to make the decision that is right for them and their families.

via Adriano Kristian Pérez

Immediately after the 2013 abortion restrictions were signed into law, I met with a couple of friends to brainstorm how we could help people in El Paso access abortion care. That’s when we decided to start the West Fund–an organization that provides financial assistance to west Texans seeking abortion care who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford the procedure.

I’m fighting to make abortion more accessible in my community every day. Can you help me get to Washington D.C. so my voice can be heard at our nation’s capitol?

In March, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear the challenge to the law forcing clinics across our state to close. I want to be there to represent the people in my community whose health and safety are being jeopardized by this dangerous law. If the Supreme Court allows the law to go into full effect, El Paso will be left without any abortion clinics and a person in my community will have to travel more than 500 miles to get to the nearest clinic in Texas.

I need your help getting to D.C. Can you pitch in today so Texas activists like me can be represented in D.C.?

Thanks for fighting the good fight with me.

What you need to know about the Fight Back Texas Truth Tour

Since the Texas Legislature passed House Bill 2 in 2013, abortion clinics across the state have been forced to close because of the law’s needless restrictions, taking away access for so many Texans who need abortion care. In March, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the case that challenges the law, Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt.

Leading up to this hearing, we’re reaching out to all Texans in our Fight Back Texas Truth Tour.TruthTour_SocialTemplate1 We pledge to give people the resources to tell their own stories and to voice their own support for access to abortion, support local clinics and abortion funds, and register people to VOTE for leaders that share their values. Whole Woman’s Health, Shift., NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, NARAL Pro-Choice America, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, Texas Research Institute, the Center for Reproductive Rights, Planned Parenthood Texas Votes, ACLU of Texas and URGE: Unite for Reproductive & Gender Equity are teaming up to spread the word across Texas that abortion is still legal and that we’re fighting harder than ever keep it safe and accessible.

Find a Truth Tour stop in your area:

College Station: Friday, February 5

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Houston: Saturday, February 6

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San Antonio: Tuesday, February 9

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McAllen: Wednesday, February 10

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El Paso: Friday, February 12

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