I can’t begin to describe what it’s been like to witness the outpouring of support and activism generated by the anti-women legislation proposed by Governor Perry and Republican leadership over the past month. It would be tough to forget the courageous filibuster by Senator Wendy Davis on the Senate floor, or the thousands who have come to the state capitol over the past several weeks to protest a major injustice.
As a quick catch up, we are still in the middle of the second special session called by Governor Perry to revisit the anti-women’s health legislation that House and Senate Democrats successfully defeated in the first special session. Earlier this week, House Democrats got a second crack at exposing the sham measure being fast-tracked through the process, HB 2. Only after 11 hours of debate and amendments did Republicans (who hold a 95-54 majority in the House) pass the bill and send it on to the Senate.
I call it a sham measure because of what I said in my closing speech on the House floor:
“Let’s not say that this bill is about women’s health. Let’s not say it is about women’s safety. And let’s not say it is about anything other than what it is, which is shutting down access to safe and legal abortions, which as of today are still protected under the United States Constitution.”
During the day-long debate, House Democrats repeatedly offered common sense solutions to reduce unintended pregnancies and therefore reduce the rate of abortions. Time and time again, we reminded our Republican colleagues of the dangers HB 2 will pose for women and families. We reminded our colleagues that HB 2 was solely about closing clinics, restricting access to health care and limiting a woman’s constitutional right to make her own decisions about her own body.
When that didn’t seem to work, we offered modifications that would put some semblance of rationality into this bill, such as Rep. Senfronia Thompson’s amendment to exempt victims of rape and incest from some of HB 2’s provisions. This common-sense proposal was rejected on a virtual party-line vote.
A number of my House Democratic colleagues stood up for implementing effective, age-appropriate, evidence-based sex education in our public schools, an issue I have filed legislation on. This proposal would actually give young people a chance to make informed decisions about their health, while still emphasizing the value of abstinence – but this type of logic only fell on deaf ears.
The refusal to have an honest conversation about reducing unintended pregnancies would continue.
Rep. Dawnna Dukes raised another viable solution. She proposed that we fully fund the Women’s Health Program, which the Legislature cut two years ago. This is a tried and true program that has been successful at preventing unintended pregnancies in the state and reducing the rate of abortions. This program has empowered countless Texas women by arming them with resources such as birth control and access to health care so they can make smart health care decisions. But again, House Republicans refused to see logic and voted this amendment down.
Although HB 2 ultimately passed the House, please understand that this fight is far from over. Your voice and your support has helped raise this issue to the national level, drawing attention to a state government run amok, a perversion of constitutional rights, and a complete failure to protect Texas women and their families.
Right alongside you, House and Senate Democrats continue to demonstrate that this fight is far from over. We will keep standing with Texans who oppose the massive government intrusion into very personal decisions that HB 2 represents.
I am very proud of the brave voices of citizens across the state who have spoken out against this bill and I’m proud of my Democratic colleagues for the long and tough fight we’ve put up to defeat it. But I need your help to keep this fight going.
Please contribute $250, $100, $50 or $25 to my campaign today so that I can continue to be a strong voice for you in the Texas House.
This fight is far from over and we must stand together if we are going to win it.