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.”

How do you celebrate Roe v. Wade when Texans are losing access to abortion?

On the 42nd anniversary of Roe v. Wade, Texans’ access to safe, legal and timely abortion is at a low point. Restricted access means only one thing: Texans’ health and safety are at risk.

Roe v. Wade, a case out of Texas, legalized abortion across the United States. At the time the Supreme Court decided Roe, abortion was banned in almost every state with few exceptions. Roe made these bans unconstitutional, resulting in increased access to safe, legal abortion nationwide.

As a young woman working in the reproductive rights movement, I am often told that I do not know what it was like before Roe, when abortion was illegal. While it is true that I—as a woman who grew up in a middle-class family in an urban area—have never had to worry about access to abortion, many Texans are now living in pre-Roe conditions where safe, legal abortion is not an option.

In the decades since Roe, the Texas Legislature has fought to restrict abortion so that it is difficult, if not impossible, to obtain. As you read this, the future of abortion access in Texas hinges on the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision on whether or not to uphold the ambulatory surgical center provision of HB 2, the anti-abortion bill passed during 2013’s second special session. This provision does nothing to benefit patients, but forces abortion clinics to meet costly building requirements like having locker rooms, showers and extra-wide hallways. If HB 2 is upheld, there will be less than 10 abortion clinics in Texas, in only five major cities and about 750,000 women of reproductive age will live more than 200 miles from a Texas abortion clinic, according to the Texas Policy Evaluation Project.

It is unconscionable that hundreds of thousands of Texans would have to travel over 200 miles to access vital reproductive health care.

Anti-abortion lawmakers and activists have recently started claiming that restrictions make the procedure safer. With less than a one percent major complication rate, abortion is already one of the safest medical procedures—according to the Guttmacher Institute—and does not need to be further regulated. In fact, abortion clinic regulations compromise Texans’ health and safety by making a legal health care procedure harder to get.

After years of attacks on abortion access by anti-abortion legislators and former Gov. Rick Perry, accessing abortion takes time and resources many people do not have. There is not only the cost of the procedure, but also the cost of travelling to the clinic multiple times. State law mandates a 24-hour wait between the required sonogram and the abortion, which for the patient means additional time off work, wages lost and arranging childcare and transportation. As a result, many Texans are pushed further along in their pregnancies before they can access a clinic.

By piling unnecessary restrictions on abortion, anti-abortion lawmakers have been able to limit access to the procedure without overturning Roe.

On the 42nd anniversary of Roe, we should acknowledge the importance of the decision, but also recognize that many Texans still lack access to abortion. Honor Roe by fighting back against anti-abortion legislation and advocating for proactive policies. The 84th Legislative Session is already underway; be prepared to come to the Texas Capitol and speak out against anti-abortion bills and in support of legislation that expands Texans’ access to reproductive health care so that on the 43rd anniversary of Roe we have more to celebrate.