Honoring Dr. Bhavik Kumar’s work in this movement.

Dr. Kumar speaks at a rally on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court in March 2016. Photo Credit: Whole Woman’s Health

 

Abortion providers face immense obstacles when providing care for their patients. They put their lives at risk every single day to selflessly provide comprehensive and dignified health care for the people who come to their clinics. Dr. Bhavik Kumar’s strong advocacy in the face of continued attacks on abortion access by the Texas Legislature is invaluable for the people affected most by the state’s abortion restrictions. That’s why we’re so honored to present Dr. Kumar with Whole Woman’s Health the Fighting Spirit Award at this year’s Fall Celebration.

Dr. Kumar’s advocacy extends beyond the clinic. As legislatures across the country increasingly rely on medically inaccurate terms and scare tactics to push increased abortion restrictions, Dr. Kumar sought out opportunities to educate legislators and advocates on the realities of abortion care. This was especially useful during the last legislative session, when the Texas Legislature passed Senate Bill 8. The bill essentially bans second trimester abortions and makes it much harder for doctors to practice their best medical judgment when treating patients. From speaking at a rally on the steps of the Supreme Court prior to the HB 2 decision to working with reporters to demystify common abortion procedures, Dr. Kumar’s commitment to reducing stigma and spreading medically-accurate information is invaluable to our movement.   

At a time when anti-abortion activists are targeting abortion providers, Dr. Kumar’s intentional decision to speak publicly as an abortion provider is even further proof of his commitment to fighting for his patients’ rights to access compassionate abortion care in their communities. We at NARAL Pro-Choice Texas are so thankful to have the opportunity to honor the brave work Dr. Kumar does. Purchase your tickets now and join us on Oct. 19 at the Fall Celebration as we celebrate Dr. Kumar’s fighting spirit.

One Year Later, Our Fight Continues Stronger Than Ever

Today I’m filled with emotion remembering some of the biggest moments in our movement for reproductive freedom in Texas. Four years ago this past Sunday, thousands of us filled the Capitol building with our voices, killing the bill Sen. Wendy Davis spoke against for 13 hours.

That bill—House Bill 2—eventually passed and our state lost more than half of its abortion clinics. One year ago today, I cried tears of joy with my staff and colleagues in the now-reopened Whole Woman’s Health of Austin clinic when the Supreme Court struck down two of the most harmful restrictions in HB 2.

Unfortunately, we do not have time for much nostalgia because in 21 days, the Legislature is coming back for a special session and Gov. Greg Abbott has promised to put even more abortion restrictions on the agenda. We need you fighting with us at the Capitol in July. Will you contribute $25 to NARAL Pro-Choice Texas today?

During the regular legislative session, anti-abortion lawmakers passed another horribly restrictive law that requires health providers to bury or cremate all embryonic and fetal tissue and criminalizes the most common abortion procedure after 13 weeks. And with more regulations to come, we need your help to fight back. Will you become part of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas’ legislative defense today?

With your help, we will keep fighting for our reproductive freedoms at the Capitol. Thank you for being with us through the years, and being there for abortion access once again.

Proud to continue fighting with you,

Heather Busby

 

STATEMENT: Texas Legislature Advances Omnibus Anti-Abortion Bill

Texas Legislature Advances Cruel and Shameful Anti-Abortion Bill That Severely Restricts Access to Health Care

For Release: 5-26-2017

Contact: Sharmeen Aly, [email protected]

AUSTIN, TX — Today, the Texas Senate voted 22 to 9 to accept the House amendments added to Senate Bill 8, an omnibus bill that would require burial or cremation of embryonic and fetal tissue, ban the use of fetal tissue for research and ban an extremely safe and medically approved method of abortion. With today’s vote, the bill is now headed for Governor Greg Abbott’s desk. Heather Busby, executive director at NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, released the following statement upon passage —

“In a complete disregard for previous court rulings, including last year’s Supreme Court decision reaffirming the right to an abortion, the Texas Legislature has passed another dangerous bill that will place an undue burden on people seeking an abortion. Texas taxpayers will now have to pay for expensive litigation because lawmakers insist on passing bills they know are unconstitutional, simply to appease an extremist anti-choice lobby.

SB 8 effectively bans second trimester abortions and will make abortion care immensely harder to access. This bill does nothing to benefit health and safety and is a dangerous intrusion into the doctor-patient relationship. Politics have no place in the exam room.

SB 8 severely restricts access to abortion and shames and stigmatizes people who have abortions. This is another shameful measure by the Texas Legislature.”

To most people, the RG​V is a symbol of the tragedy of this law. To me, it’s home.

This is a guest post from Melissa Aronja.  

The day Whole Woman’s Health closed in McAllen, Texas was a sobering experience.

It was March 2014, and no one at the time knew if the Rio Grande Valley would ever have an abortion clinic again. At the closing vigil held outside the clinic, each person in attendance read some of the personal experiences of Whole Woman’s Health patients. They were stories written by immigrants, students, people going through divorce and people who had experienced sexual assault. Local anti-choicers were gathered across the street and cheered in celebration.

The months that followed — the months in which some of the poorest counties in the United States were left without abortion access — were surreal and directly affected people I know.

I was in Austin in 2013 when the Texas Legislature voted to move forward with HB 2, and I’ve seen the effects of the terrible legislation first-hand. Being in D.C. during the oral arguments for Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt is important to me. The constant attacks on Whole Woman’s Health are personal. The loss of abortion access during those awful six months in 2014 is personal. Will you chip in and help me carry my voice all the way to the Supreme Court?MelissaAronja

Six months after it initially closed, Whole Woman’s Health was allowed to reopen. On that day, I awoke to texts from friends who were helping the clinic finish setting up. Anti-choice protesters were not happy about the clinic’s reopening; volunteers were needed immediately to help get patients safely inside the building, so I rushed to the clinic. Over the next couple of weeks, our little group hit the ground running, figuring out the logistics of clinic escorting amidst a crowd of very aggressive protestors from the local crisis pregnancy center. Not only were they upset that Whole Woman’s Health had reopened, they were positively furious that clinic escorts were now present on “their” turf.

Then, the clinic was temporarily forced to close again. That weekend, I organized a last-minute demonstration outside our closed clinic. We’d had enough. Only about twelve people showed up, but pictures from that demonstration have since made their way into publications all around the world. South Texans for Reproductive Justice was born.

Looking back on our first demonstration as South Texans for Reproductive Justice, I’m incredibly proud of how far our grassroots movement has come in the wake of HB 2. At the end of January 2016, the annual Roe v. Wade anti-choice parade made its way to Whole Woman’s Health. Hundreds of anti-choicers were met by hundreds of pro-choice supporters. We had enough people to line both sides of the street, preventing the parade from surrounding the clinic during operating hours as they had done in the past.

Before HB 2, the Rio Grande Valley didn’t even register on most people’s radars. Now, it’s part of one of the biggest abortion rights cases in history. To most people, the RG​V is a symbol of the tragedy of this law. To me, it’s home. This court case has the power to permanently impact my friends and family, and I can’t let this happen without a fight. Can you pitch in to help me take my fight against HB 2 to Washington, D.C.?

I want to go to D.C. as SCOTUS decides the fate of Texas abortion clinics, but I need your help.

This is a guest post from Mary Drummer.

I remember staying up ’til the early hours of the morning riveted to my computer screen and Twitter, catching the live Tweets and streams from activists who were in the Texas Capitol during Wendy Davis’ filibuster. The feeling was so electric and live that I wished I had scrounged up the cash and traveled to Texas to be there. Unfortunately, at the same time, my home state of Ohio was also doing their best to pass draconian anti-abortion laws, but due to our state Senate rules, there would be no history making filibuster like there was in Texas.

A few months later when Wendy Davis officially announced her intention to run for Governor, I just KNEW I had to work on her campaign. I had previously done organizing work in my home state of Ohio around reproductive rights and other progressive issues and was just finishing up a healthcare campaign with the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. When I saw that Battleground Texas was hiring, I applied, was hired, and moved across the country to Texas in 10 days. Working on that campaign and seeing so many Texans inspired and engaged in politics (many for the first time in their lives) was life-changing.Mary Drummer

I’m not done fighting back. Having lived in Houston, Austin, Dallas and traveled to the Rio Grande Valley, I’ve seen first hand the harm that’s being done to individuals because of HB2. Can you pitch in to help me get to D.C. so my voice can be heard at our nation’s capital?

After the campaign ended, I didn’t want to leave Texas, so I moved to Austin where I joined the Next Generation program with NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, participated in direct actions at the state Capitol against more abortion restrictions, and attended community group discussions held by Mama Sana/Vibrant Woman, a radical reproductive justice group that centers Women of Color. I am now living in Dallas, where I recently joined the board of the TEAfund, an abortion fund that serves individuals in North Texas, and I have also joined the advisory council of Reproaction–a national abortion rights organization that aims to change the messaging around abortion to one that’s more positive and affirming.

If HB 2 were to fully go into effect, it would leave only 10 abortion clinics open in a state that’s larger than the country of France. There would be no providers in all of Western Texas or in the Rio Grande Valley.

We’re fighting back. Just like Roe v. Wade, which also originated in Texas, Whole Woman’s v. Hellerstedt will be a watershed moment in abortion rights history and it’s only right that we have Texans who have been working and organizing in this movement in D.C. when the arguments are heard. Can you help me get to Washington, D.C. for the oral arguments at the Supreme Court?