UPDATE (06/30/2013): Karen has been kind enough to update her research, which I have put in a new post. Please direct your attention there instead of her for more up-to-date information.
UPDATE (06/29/2013): The bill numbers have been updated for the new special session. They are now HB2 and SB9. Thank you to eagle-eyed readers JohnE and KarenBailey for pointing this out in the comments.
The following is important information:
PLEASE READ THIS IN ITS ENTIRETY! IT’S LONG BUT IMPORTANT! When you go to this protest on Monday, PLEASE be informed and know the facts. Some of the media will attempt to make you look as stupid as possible, as if women are hysterical, emotional and totally unreasonable. As emotional an issue as this is for many of us, people are more apt to listen and take you seriously if you remain calm and logical in your arguments.
READ THE ACTUAL BILL (if you haven’t already) http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/tlodocs/831/billtext/html/SB00005H.htm
Beat the supporters of this bill at their own game and have your arguments ready as to why this bill is damaging to women.
a. Point one of the bill changes the time at which a woman can legally obtain an abortion from 24 to 20 weeks.
• YOU NEED TO KNOW that this provision is touted as being legitimate because of TOTALLY REFUTABLE evidence from only a handful of doctors that a fetus at 20 weeks can feel pain, and that there is substantial medical evidence THAT THIS IS NOT TRUE because pain receptors in the brain are not fully formed at 20 weeks of gestation.
• YOU ALSO NEED TO KNOW that the Supreme Court has established that a woman has a right to an abortion until the fetus is viable outside the womb, which is at the 24th week of pregnancy, and so this provision IS IN VIOLATION OF FEDERAL LAW.
• Please note that there IS a caveat in the bill allowing an exception that if after the 20 week mark the pregnancy is a threat to the life of the woman, and/or the fetus has serious health impairments, a doctor and woman can decide to terminate the pregnancy. So be careful NOT to use the argument about the safety of the woman and the health condition of the fetus as a reason to not pass the bill.
b. Point two of the bill involves restricting the dispensing of the abortion pill to licensed physicians only.
• WHY THIS IS DAMAGING TO WOMEN is because it would prohibit nurse practitioners and physicians assistants, many of whom run these clinics, from prescribing the drugs.
• This provision also limits the dispensation of the drugs only after an examination concludes that the fetus is 20 weeks or less in gestation and that the health of the mother and/or fetus is at stake. In other words, a woman seeking a purely elective abortion will not longer have access to the abortion pill and will have to undergo the surgical procedure.
c. Point three of the bill is the most concerning. This is the point requiring abortion clinics to upgrade their facilities to ambulatory surgical center standards (for information on what that means see this link http://www.dshs.state.tx.us/hfp/asc.shtm.)
• WHY THIS IS DAMAGING TO WOMEN is because only five of the current 42 clinics meet these standard.
• IT IS IMPORTANT TO KNOW that the bill gives a deadline of September 1, 2014 (about a year) for clinics to upgrade their facilities to meet these standards, but these upgrades are VERY costly.
• IT IS ALSO IMPORTANT TO KNOW that abortion providers already follow standard regulations and that both The Texas Medical Association and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists indicate that the proposed standards are not necessary for performing safe abortions.
Point three ALSO requires that doctors performing abortions have admitting privileges at a hospital within a 30 mile radius of where the abortion is being performed.
• YOU NEED TO KNOW that most hospitals in Texas do not grant privileges to doctors who perform abortions due either to religious reasons or out of fear that they will become targets of protest. It is also a COMPLETELY moot point if the other part of the bill requiring clinics to upgrade their facilities takes effect because everything needed to ensure the safety of the woman WILL BE AVAILABLE AT THE UPGRADED FACILITY.
• This part of the bill is a very thinly veiled attempt to shut down all of the clinics in the state, and particularly ones that women in rural regions have access to. This puts the burden on the pregnant woman to not only have the money to pay for the abortion, but also the money and ability to travel great distances to obtain the services. ALSO REMEMBER these clinics provide other important services related to women’s health care and shutting them down will restrict access to those services as well.
• SO YOU CAN ARGUE THAT IF, as the proponents of this bill profess, this bill promotes the safety and well-being of the pregnant woman, then what are they willing to do to ensure that a.) the clinics have the ability and funding to upgrade their facilities, and b.) that hospitals will allow admitting privileges to doctors who perform abortions? If this were TRULY about the safety and well-being of the women, the state would set aside funds for clinics to be upgraded, and/or provide tax incentives for clinics that do upgrade their facilities. They would also be setting aside funding for MORE of these surgical facilities to be created to increase women’s access to services, and taking action to force hospitals to give admitting privileges to doctors who perform abortions.
IN CONCLUSION, the bigger issue of the War on Women of which this bill is but one battle is that a primarily rich, white, old, male legislature is determining what SHOULD be a decision between a doctor, a woman, and whatever deity in which a woman believes (if any). They are not in there discussing the man’s obligation and role in a woman’s pregnancy in the first place, men’s rights to Viagra, standards for safe surgical procedures for vasectomies or prostate cancer, rape prevention measures, or appropriate and realistic sex education to prevent pregnancy in the first place.
If they are OUR representatives in the Senate, then they should be REPRESENTING THE BELIEFS OF THEIR CONSTITUENTS, and this poll indicates that a majority of CONSERVATIVE VOTERS in Texas do NOT support this bill. As such, the Senators are NOT representing the beliefs of their constituents. Here’s a link to the actual poll data: http://gqrr.com/articles/2013/06/20/texas-voters-oppose-governor-perry-s-omnibus-abortion-bill/ (footnote: the research group that conducted this poll states it is “committed to progressive goals, ideas, and leaders.” Take the validity of the poll results within that context. They did do a reasonable job at establishing a representative cross section of the Texas population based on political affiliation, had a good N (i.e. total number of people polled), and an adequate margin of error at +/- 4.)
Also, if you haven’t already, let your Senate representative know how you believe they should vote. If you already know s/he opposes this bill, still send him/her a message to encourage continued opposition to the bill. Follow this link to find out who represents you and their contact information http://www.senate.state.tx.us/75r/senate/members.htm
And finally, IF the bill passes, (and we HAVE to admit it very likely will), then focus your attention on WHAT WE CAN DO NEXT, such as finding non-profit funding to ensure the clinics can meet the upgrade standards within the time limit, putting pressure on hospitals to allow admitting privileges to doctors who perform abortions and on our legislators to ensure that this happens, mobilizing transportation programs to get women in rural areas to the clinics that remain open, and seeking legal representation to take the provisions of this bill to the courts to be overturned as was the case in states such as Arizona, Georgia, and Idaho. And VOTE in the next election to get legislators into office that DO represent our interests.
STAY STRONG. STAY INFORMED. FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT.
Photo credit: Via Wendy Motherfucking Davis on Facebook.