The following was written by my new friend Karen, and should replace the information I posted last week. I am editing that post so that it directs readers here. After this sentence, everything else is Karen’s words.
I’ve been waiting for the text of HB2 to come available to amend this fully, but it continues to be unavailable (probably intentional). In any event, I’ve added links to the new bills, and made SOME amendments based on information we have received regarding SB9. IMPORTANT TO READ THE PART ABOUT SB9 (see section c.) because it has significant changes from the previous bill and makes previous arguments no longer valid. If you can get the word out about the changes (as much as possible, I know the ship has sailed to a certain extent), it would be GREAT.
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 BILLS (if you haven’t already) http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/tlodocs/831/billtext/html/SB00005H.htm
NOTE: this is the OLD bill. There is now SB9 and HB2.
The text of SB9 is available http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=832&Bill=SB9
The text of HB2 has not been made available yet http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=832&Bill=HB2
Beat the supporters of these bills at their own game and have your arguments ready as to why this bill is damaging to women.
a. One point of SB5 (and likely HB2) 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 significant fetal abnormalities, a doctor and woman can decide to terminate the pregnancy.
b. The point of SB5 (HB2) that is the most concerning requires 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 this 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. There are no incentives or funding being made available to assist clinics in upgrading these facilities.
• IT IS ALSO IMPORTANT TO KNOW that abortion providers already follow strict 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.
This point 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 anything a hospital would provide that the legislators claim is necessary for a woman’s safety 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.
• These two provisions together create a double whammy intended to close ALL clinics, because even if you get your clinic upgraded to an ambulatory surgical facility, it is highly likely the doctor will not have admitting privileges. See how they’re trying to get us from both sides?
• 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. OR, they would make the upgrading of the facility and the admitting privileges an EITHER/OR scenario, rather than requiring compliance with BOTH provisions. More clinics would have a chance at remaining open. Obviously the woman’s safety is not the intention of the bill or of those who support it; the intention is to unilaterally restrict access to services and ultimately ban abortion in the state altogether.
c. SB9 involves restrictions regarding the dispensing of the abortion pill.
• YOU NEED TO KNOW this is just one more way the bill is limiting a woman’s options. It requires a follow-up visit 14 days after the woman takes the pill, ANOTHER burden for poor women and women in rural areas to GET to a clinic when so few (if any) will be available in the state.
• Unlike SB5, it contains wording about a “physician’s agent” to include anyone operating under the physician’s license (i.e. Nurse Practitioners and Physician’s Assistants.)
IN CONCLUSION, the bigger issue at stake is that a primarily wealthy 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. It is just one more example of a tiresome sexist view that a woman is not only responsible for her behavior and choices, but also a man’s.
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 the bills, still send him/her a message to encourage continued opposition. 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 bills pass, (and we HAVE to admit they 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.