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

STATEMENT: State Health Agency Holds Hearing on Medically Unnecessary Fetal Tissue Burial Rules

For Release: 12-11-2017

Contact: Alexa Garcia-Ditta, [email protected]exas.org

On Monday, the Health and Human Services Commission held a hearing for public comment on rules requiring burial or cremation of embryonic and fetal tissue following an abortion or miscarriage. The rules, blocked by a federal court in January, were codified into state law during the 2017 legislative session. Heather Busby, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, released the following statement —

“After passing further draconian anti-abortion measures during the regular and special legislative sessions, Texas officials still won’t let up in restricting access to health care. It is shameful that Texas has pushed ahead with rules requiring burial or cremation of fetal tissue despite an ongoing legal challenge and a failure to prove in court that these rules serve any benefit to public health or patient safety.

Texans have shown up repeatedly to oppose these medically unnecessary rules but it’s clear that our state officials want to prioritize playing politics with people’s health care rather than listen to their concerns. Our reproductive freedom is not a political football to toss around and score political points with.

Pregnant Texans deserve to make decisions about their own medical care, free from interference by anti-abortion politicians.”

Why I Give: Jeni Putalavage-Ross

2017 has been a really hard year. Every day, there was a new cause that I felt like I should be helping—natural disasters wreaked havoc around the country and the world, countless political causes needed support, and so many individuals used crowdsourcing to help get them through hard times that it was sometimes truly overwhelming. I try to support a few key causes as the foundation of my annual giving and I’ve chosen NARAL Pro-Choice Texas as my base.
I support them wholeheartedly because I believe reproductive rights are so essential and so threatened. Deciding whether or not to become a parent is arguably the biggest decision every individual has to make. Everyone deserves to make the decision about how, when and IF they want to have a child. Unfortunately, politicians in Texas and the White House are trying everything they can to limit people’s access to health care and abortion. I count on NARAL Pro-Choice Texas to represent my interests at the Legislature, keep me informed about legislative action that will impact abortion access, help inform community organizers and politicians about the facts around abortion, and expose deceptive crisis pregnancy centers (even as the state continues to fund them).