Oppose SB 4: Immigrant Justice is Reproductive Justice

This Wednesday the House State Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on SB 4, which would punish local and state government entities, as well as college campuses, that refuse to cooperate with federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials or enforce immigration laws.

As we fight for the fundamental right of every person to maintain bodily autonomy, to make their own reproductive health care decisions with access to the full range of options, and to live and raise families in healthy, safe communities, with dignity and justice, this legislation is of the utmost concern.

The health and rights of 1.5 million undocumented immigrants living in Texas are already profoundly compromised by their immigration status. Undocumented immigrants are often forced to work in industries that are undervalued, underpaid, hazardous to their health, lacking in basic worker protections, and offer no benefits. Not surprisingly, a majority of them do not have health care coverage. As a result, undocumented immigrants are less likely to receive adequate reproductive health care.

However, as federal agencies ramp up their use of deportation raids as an immigration enforcement tactic under the Trump administration, the threat of deportation is proving to be as great a barrier to accessing health care as the systemic disenfranchisement undocumented immigrants have faced throughout their experience in the United States.

Undocumented individuals frequently report forgoing or delaying care for fear that they will be reported to immigration officials. Stories like that of a Mexican woman detained in Houston at a gynecologist’s appointment and of a Salvadoran woman with a brain tumor forcefully taken out of the hospital where she was being treated in Burleson, Texas, and back to a detention center add to an atmosphere of panic and deter vulnerable individuals from seeking the care they need.

SB 4 would give local law enforcement agencies in Texas no choice but to facilitate this aggressive wave of deportations, breaking up families and communities and further marginalizing a population that, in fact, is an integral part of our state’s social, cultural and economic fabric. This bill would encourage dangerous profiling practices and tie city and county officials’ hands in determining public safety priorities, as well as discouraging victims and witnesses from reporting crimes. If enacted, SB 4 would make all Texans less safe.

Here’s how you can help stop this dangerous measure:

  1. Call the members of the State Affairs Committee and tell them to oppose SB 4:

– Chair, Byron Cook: 512-463-0730

– Vice Chair, Helen Giddings: 512-463-0953

– Tom Craddick: 512-463-0500

– Charlie Geren: 512-463-0610

– Jessica Farrar: 512-463-0620

– Ryan Guillen: 512-463-0416

– Ken King: 512-463-0736

– John Kuempel: 512-462-0602

– Morgan Meyer: 512-463-0367

– Rene Oliveira: 512-463-0640

– Chris Paddie: 512-463-0674

– Eddie Rodriguez: 512-463-0674

– John T. Smithee: 512-463-0702

2. Call your OWN representative, to let them know that you are against SB 4. Find out who represents you here.

3. Come to the State Affairs Committee Hearing on Wednesday, March 15. It will be at the Capitol in the extension, room E2.036. Notice of the hearing can be found here.

4. Testify at the Hearing. If you are willing to take your advocacy to the next level, consider testifying at the State Affairs Committee Hearing. You will need to deliver a 3-minute testimony stating that you are against SB 4. Here is more information about how to register to testify.

 

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

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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TX Health and Human Services Commission

ACTION ALERT: Women’s Health Advisory Committee Meeting on 9/23

Join us this Wednesday for a public hearing as the Health & Human Services Commission (HHSC) convenes a Women’s Health Advisory Committee to make recommendations on the future of the state’s women’s health programs.

The last three legislative sessions have been an ongoing attack on reproductive health care. We’ve seen cuts to family planning, the implementation of severe abortion restrictions that forced more than half of the abortion care clinics to close and to increased attacks on pregnant teenagers’ access to safe abortion care.

Let the committee hear from you and let them know that Texans’ reproductive health needs to be protected and expanded. We can’t afford to keep having access to reproductive health care rolled back session after session.

Will you join us? RSVP below!

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Gov. Abbott celebrates arrest of Latina woman who was seeking medical care

Earlier this week, Greg Abbott tweeted in celebration of the arrest of Blanca Borrego, the undocumented Houston mom of three who was seeking medical care with her established doctor at a Houston reproductive health clinic. In his tweet he insinuated that a Latina mother who only was trying to access medical care while undocumented is a criminal.

She was seeking treatment at the clinic for a painful ovarian cyst. It was her first time at this clinic but not the first time seeing this particular doctor whom she had an ongoing patient-doctor relationship with. In order to access medical services, she used a fake ID with her real information and a valid insurance card. She waited over two hours until she was finally called back, only to be met with a sheriff’s deputy instead of a doctor.

Blanca Borrego has lived in Houston for more than twelve years. Like many people, she came to this country through legal channels, on a visa which later expired. Her older daughter is a recent college graduate and a beneficiary of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) and her youngest child is a U.S. citizen. They both witnessed their mother taken out of the doctor’s office in handcuffs.

Protesters march outside of a Memorial Hermann hospital, the medical provider that called police on Blanca Borrego (via Natalie San Luis, NARAL Pro-Choice Texas).

Protesters march outside of a Memorial Hermann hospital, the medical provider that called police on Blanca Borrego (via Natalie San Luis, NARAL Pro-Choice Texas).

Blanca would have not been in this situation if Greg Abbott, while attorney general, had not filed a lawsuit challenging President Obama’s executive order to expand DACA and implement of DAPA (Deferred Action for Parents of Americans). By halting the President’s executive action not only were Blanca and her family put at risk, but over 5 million more immigrant parents and their children who call this country home are forced to continue living in the shadows.

Blanca’s story hits close to home. I’m a Houstonian, this could have easily been one of my own family members. I know what it means to put off seeking medical care in fear of deportation because I saw my own family members do it one too many times.

This negative rhetoric Greg Abbott and extremist politicians perpetuate about immigrants in the United States is dangerous and puts our community at risk. It makes targets out of immigrants, whether they are undocumented or not. Healthcare is a human right and no one should have to fear deportation or profiling while trying to take care of themselves. Greg Abbott, shame on you. Blanca’s arrest is nothing to celebrate and breaking families apart is not a Texas value.