Statement: Texas Senate Passes SB 20, A Ban on Private Insurance Coverage for Abortion

For Release: 3-22-2017

Contact: Sharmeen Aly, [email protected]

AUSTIN, TEXAS — Today, the Texas Senate passed on second reading 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.”

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: Texas Senate HHS Hears Multiple Anti-Abortion Bills Designed to Shame and Stigmatize Texans

Texas Senate HHS Hears Multiple Anti-Abortion Bills Designed to Shame and Stigmatize Texans

For Release: 2-15-2017

Contact: [email protected], 214-404-8254

On Wednesday, the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services held a public hearing on three restrictive anti-abortion bills — Senate Bills 8, 258, and 415. Heather Busby, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, released the following statement

“Politicians in the Texas Legislature are once again attacking a person’s right to make their own private health care decisions. Every person’s pregnancy experience is different and people need all the options available to make the decision that’s best for them and their family.

Today’s hearing revealed once again that anti-choice politicians continue to rely on ideologues and scare tactics to peddle these baseless measures. The hearing also revealed no regard for the dignity of pregnant Texans or the legal system. All of the bills heard by the Senate today are thinly veiled attempts to ban abortion. Banning the safest methods of abortion does nothing to enhance patients’ health and safety; in fact, banning abortion methods puts people’s lives at risk. There is no room for politicians in the exam room.

Dozens of Texans testified in opposition to these bills, calling on the Legislature to stop attacking reproductive health care. Texans have shown again and again that they won’t stand for attacks on abortion access. It is long past time for anti-choice legislators to stop playing politics with health care and passing measures that put patients’ health and safety at risk and grossly intrude on the doctor-patient relationship.”

###

Senate Bill 8, filed by Senators Charles Schwertner, Donna Campbell, Lois Kolkhorst, Jane Nelson and Charles Perry, would ban the donation of fetal tissue from abortion clinics for research purposes and contains a copy of an existing federal ban of a common and extremely safe abortion procedure.

Senate Bill 258, filed by Senator Don Huffines, codifies a politically motivated rule, currently enjoined by a federal judge, requiring the burial or cremation of embryonic and fetal tissue following an abortion. It would also require Texans seeking abortion to complete a state-mandated tissue disposition form prior to their abortion.
Senate Bill 415, filed by Senator Charles Perry, would ban the safest method of performing abortions later in pregnancy.

Annika

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.