Nationwide marriage equality is a win for reproductive justice

This is part of a series of posts from pro-choice high schoolers who support all aspects of reproductive justice and are becoming leaders in the fight for reproductive freedom in their communities. 

“Why are you in favor of marriage equality?”

It’s very hard for me to answer that question. Marriage equality has always seemed like common sense to me and most of my generation. Even in Texas, most of my peers feel that denying this basic civil right is senseless. I am so happy that the Supreme Court felt the same way.

This is a big step toward a promising future for the LGBTQ+ community. Our entire country is finally acknowledging the validity and strength of love, regardless of someone’s gender or sexual orientation. It has taken us too many years, but society is finally giving some long-awaited respect. Of course, we still have work to do:

  • Stereotyping, insensitive slurs and subtle discrimination is a reality for LGBTQ+ people on a daily basis.
  • According to the 2013 LGBTQ Hate Violence Report from the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, transgender people experience substantially more threats of violence, intimidation and harassment than other non-transgender LGB people.
  • The majority of the nation does not have non-discrimination ordinances in places that protect LGBTQ+ people from being discriminated against in employment and housing. Currently, only 22 states and Washington D.C. have statewide protections for LGBTQ+ people seeking employment, an issue that’s regarded as the “next frontier” for the movement.
  • Among homeless youth, 40 percent identify as LGBTQ+.
  • Check out this comprehensive list that explains all of the hurdles that LGBTQ+ people face everyday in the U.S.

But, we are finally getting somewhere.

Maybe my thoughts are eluded by the hype of today, but I’m very optimistic about what the Supreme Court has granted us over the last few days. It kills me, however, to still see resistance from our own Texas attorney general, Ken Paxton.

Many counties in Texas are not yet granting marriage licenses, awaiting his approval. He believes state law could somehow override the Supreme Court’s decision. How this man became a licensed attorney is beyond me. Does he need a flashback Friday to Marbury v. Madison (aka the concept of judicial review!)? Clearly, for a man who’s currently under investigation by the Texas State Securities Board, interpreting what is and isn’t ethical should not be up to him.

Wait! Let’s not forget our <sarcasm>favorite</sarcasm> governor, Greg Abbott:

I fail to realize how a religious liberty could be threatened by a sheer commemoration of love. The majority of America has already “redefined” marriage. In fact, I’d like to see a direct citation of God defining it in the first place.

Without allying on a larger platform of equality, how is any movement supposed to stay credible? To advocate for reproductive justice, we can’t only advocate for rights of cisgender, heterosexual white women. We have to provide a comprehensive network of support: no matter how a person identifies, no matter their orientation, no matter their race. The platform of equality is continuous and omnipresent for all forms of justice.

BREAKING: 5th Circuit Court of Appeals Upholds Most of HB2

Update: On a press call, Whole Woman’s Health Founder and CEO Amy Hagstrom Miller has vowed to take the case all the way to the Supreme Court. Clinics have 22 days to comply with the court’s ruling.

The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled today that the majority of the most harmful provisions of House Bill 2 can remain in effect, shuttering all but 8 clinics in the entire state. With the exception of Whole Woman’s Health of McAllen, all clinics in Texas are required to comply with the costly building standards of ambulatory surgical centers and must have physicians on site that maintain hospital admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the clinic. Read our press release below and the court ruling here.

Appellate Court Ruling Causes Widespread Abortion Clinic Closures in Texas

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.