Lawmakers Must Prioritize Proactive Bills That Expand and Protect Reproductive Health Care

For weeks, Texas lawmakers have debated measures designed explicitly to reduce access to abortion and stigmatize Texans seeking vital health care. Misinformation and ideological rhetoric abound, and politicians continue to interfere with the doctor-patient relationship. These bills are harmful, endanger the lives of Texans and blatantly disrespect physicians and patient privacy.

While bills like this are flying through the Legislature, others that actually protect and promote access to health care are languishing. As we approach a key deadline for House bills to be voted out of committee, we call on lawmakers to hold hearings on the following good bills:

  • House Bill 262 by Rep. Donna Howard respects a physician’s medical training and allows them to exercise their best medical judgement when providing abortion care to their patients. This bill ensures doctors can practice medicine without political interference by protecting them should they opt out of giving their patients state-mandated misinformation.
  • House Bill 745 by Rep. Jessica Farrar repeals Texas’ 24-hour waiting period before an abortion. This bill strikes a medically unnecessary restriction from state law and restores dignity to Texans seeking abortion care.
  • House Bill 746, also by Rep. Jessica Farrar, strikes from state law a pervasive lie peddled by the anti-abortion movement—that abortion leads to an increased risk of breast cancer. For more than a decade, Texas law has required physicians to share with their patients this baseless claim. By removing this language from statute, HB 746 ensures that patients have the accurate medical information they deserve.

In addition to holding hearings on these bills, legislators should also vote on Rep. Mary Gonzalez’s House Bill 330, which expands access to birth control for parenting minors by allowing them to consent to their own health care, and Rep. Jessica Farrar’s House Bill 747, which makes accurate information about emergency contraception available to sexual assault survivors.

These bills deserve attention and a vote. We call on lawmakers to prioritize HBs 262, 330, 745, 746 and 747 and abandon the misguided, medically inaccurate and stigmatizing legislation they have taken up so far this session. Click here to send an email directly to the chairman of the committee responsible for taking up these bills.

STATEMENT: TX House Approves an Additional $20 Million to Anti-Abortion CPCs

Texas House Approves an Additional $20 Million to Anti-Abortion Crisis Pregnancy Centers

For Release: 4-6-2017

Contact: Sharmeen Aly, [email protected]

AUSTIN, TX — During debate on the 2018-19 state budget, the Texas House approved an additional $20 million per two-year budget cycle for the Alternatives to Abortion program. This program funnels millions of tax dollars to manipulative, deceptive crisis pregnancy centers that intentionally lie to and coerce pregnant Texans.

Heather Busby, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, released the following statement on the funding increase for crisis pregnancy centers—

“It is shameful that the state continues to give millions of health care dollars to non-medical entities that lie to, shame and manipulate Texans considering an abortion, especially at a time when vulnerable children are dying in foster care, public education remains chronically underfunded and cuts to Medicaid for disabled kids remain in place.

Crisis pregnancy centers are not comprehensive health centers and do not provide Texans with the full range of available options. CPCs exist to prevent people facing unintended pregnancies from accessing abortion care and delay their care to the point where they’re not able to access abortion. These centers use scare tactics and provide scientifically inaccurate information to their patients and are ultimately dangerous to the health and safety of pregnant Texans.

It is unconscionable that lawmakers voted against a budget amendment to move this money to the family planning program and instead increased funding by $20 million for ideologically motivated CPCs and refused to fund legitimate health care providers.”

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ED of TEA Fund: We can find ‘common ground’ with those who disagree with us on repro rights

At the beginning of the legislative session, I went to the “Trust. Respect. Access.” advocacy day to promote bills that restore trust in Texans, respect for health care professionals and access to the full range of reproductive health care. I was prepared to speak with anti-choice Texas legislators, but I did not anticipate that I would have a productive conversation with a stranger in the Capitol hallway who did not share my views on abortion access.

For advocacy day, I was grouped with a couple of student activists to visit legislators. My group was on our way to our first visit when I heard an older woman asking the students what our shirts, which said, “Trust. Respect. Access,” meant. She seemed excited to see young people at the Capitol. When the students told her they were at the Capitol to talk to legislators about reproductive health care she responded, “Oh, abortion. But you seem like such nice girls.”

I broke into the conversation and said, “They are nice girls.”

She responded, “We need to err on the side of life whenever possible.”

I didn’t expect the interaction to continue, but she seemed really open to talking to us even though she didn’t agree with us. She was very curious about our position. She had a lot of questions and was very respectful.

At some point, we brought up that not everyone can afford to have an abortion. She asked, “Who can’t afford an abortion? Doesn’t Medicaid pay for that?”

I told her that in Texas, Medicaid does not cover abortions.

She responded, “I’ve been told that Planned Parenthood charges five hundred dollars for an abortion. Who can’t come up with five hundred dollars?”

I told her about how a couple of weeks ago I was in a car accident and it was hard for me to come up with the five hundred dollars for repairs. I said some people make half what I make and might have children or additional expenses. I told her about how a lot of the people my organization, the Texas Equal Access Fund, helps with abortion are parents already and can’t afford to take on a child and find it difficult to pay for an abortion.

We also gave her a chance to share her position. We weren’t hostile or disrespectful and that opened a gateway for her to ask questions and learn about abortion access. She had some common misconceptions about abortion, and we were able to give her correct information.

Eventually we parted ways, but ran into her at lunch later. She asked us to come sit with her. We talked about our families and realized we have a lot of things in common in the general sense; we just have different ideas about how to achieve positive outcomes for our families.

We found a little bit of common ground.

We have to remember that even when we don’t agree with people about reproductive rights, we can still have conversations with them. The woman at the Capitol told us she had never talked to anyone about reproductive rights issues who she didn’t agree with before.

A lot of the time, if we sit down one-on-one with people and talk through an issue we disagree on we can find common ground and help people understand our perspectives. In my mind, being pro-choice is about supporting the need for abortion to be legal and accessible. When I have these conversations, a lot of people who think they’re anti-choice end up expressing pro-choice values—they’re just conflicted.

Men for Choice

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Elected officials in Texas keep trying to force a narrow, anti-choice agenda through. They seem to think there’s only one right way to live your life – from the partner you choose, to the family you have, to the healthcare decisions you make – but in the movement for reproductive freedom in our state, we know Texans are not all the same, and that’s a source of strength for us. We’re in this together: pro-choice Texans of all backgrounds, identities, genders and perspectives.

That’s why we’re proud to honor the men in our movement at this year’s Men For Choice events!

Men For Choice Dallas – Tuesday, May 19, 2015 | Tickets and information
Men For Choice Austin – Thursday, June 4, 2015 | Tickets and information
Men For Choice HoustonTuesday, May 26, 2015 Monday, June 29 | Tickets and information

Each Men For Choice event directly supports the critical lobbying and advocacy work NARAL Pro-Choice Texas is doing right now to protect reproductive rights during the 2015 Texas legislative session. We hope to see you at a M4C event near you soon!