By: Amanda Hart
UPDATE @11:15am - ACLU-TX has set up a legal hotline - 20 cooperating attorneys on standby. 888-653-6498 dial 0 then 101 for the hotline. Tell people to Sharpie it on their arm. If you can stop and pick up some sharpies to share on the way it would be greatly appreciated.
UPDATE@12:30pm - Public parking info if you drive to the Capitol (found on the map here). The first two hours are free. Each half hour is $1. All day parking is $8. The visitor parking lot is on 12th and San Jacinto. There is also a lot of metered parking in the area, much of them accept credit cards, though you may want to have some quarters just in case.
By now, nearly everyone is familiar with Wendy Davis. If you were not one of the 220,000+ viewers this past week live streaming Texas Senator Wendy Davis filibuster of the contentious anti-choice legislation on the Senate floor, you can update yourself here .
Right before Governor Rick Perry was to speak at a National Right to Life conference in Dallas he announced that he was calling a second special session to finish what Davis, State Democrats, and the citizens of Texas had successfully squashed during the first special session. On Friday, Rep. Jodie Rape-Kits-Clean-a-Woman-Out Laubenberg filed House Bill 2. Followed by our favorite Houston Senator, Dan Patrick, filling Senate Bill 9 both for deliberation during the second special session. HB2 and SB9 are the same harmful legislation that was literally just defeated through the power of the people. You can read the text of the SB5 here.
Today marks the first day of the 30-day special session and Texans all over the state are preparing for round two in hopes of defeating state Republicans once again. The Stand With Texas Women Rally is occurring at high noon on the South steps of the State Capitol TODAY. Show up at noon wearing your orange apparel to stand with Texas women and make sure our voices are heard once again. Joining the rally to stand in support of Texas women everywhere is singer Natalie Maines, State Sen. Wendy Davis, actress Stephanie March, actress Lisa Edelstein, Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards, and NARAL President Ilyse Hogue. Don’t forget to bring your sun block and drink plenty of water! A request has been made for people to please bring extra pallets of water to share with everyone. You can drop the extra water off at any of the canopies that have been set up.
If you are unable to attend the rally, one proactive step you can take is to contact your Senate Representative and let them know you oppose this bill or praise them for standing up for reproductive rights for Texas women. Also, if you can’t make it to Austin you can Meet Up to Stand Up with fellow supporters in Houston at Hughes Hangar, 2811 Washington Ave, Houston, TX 77007. The Houston event starts at 7pm and all are invited to come out to find out more about what is to be expected during the second special session and how you can take action. Stand with Texas Women t-shirts will be available for purchase. You can RSVP here.
Here is some important information if you plan on attending the Austin Rally: You really should read SB5 and familiarize yourself with the text. This is important not just for your own knowledge, but also when/if the media interviews you. It is important to stay on topic and remain calm, and the best way to do this is to educate yourself.
SB5 has morphed into HB2/SB9 and while the text is not yet available online for HB2 (SB9 Text is Available) here are the basics that will be all too familiar from our last go round. The following was found through a post from NOW Austin. *I have added some information within it to provide a more comprehensive analysis.
A. One point of HB2 (use to be SB5) changes the time at which a woman can legally obtain an abortion from 24 to 20 weeks.
• NEED TO KNOW: This provision is touted as being legitimate because of (COMPLETELY 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.
• NEED TO KNOW: The Supreme Court has established that a woman has a right to an abortion until the fetus is viable outside the womb which according to the courts is somewhere between the 24th or 28th week of pregnancy. Which means this provision is in violation of federal law.
• NEED TO KNOW: There IS a caveat in the bill allowing an exception that if after the 20-week mark there 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. However, currently there is NO exception in the case of incest or rape after 20 weeks.
B. The point of HB2 (previously SB5) that is the most concerning is the language included that requires abortion clinics to upgrade their facilities to ambulatory surgical center standards (for information on what that means see this link).
• NEED TO KNOW: This is damaging to women because only 5 of the current 42 clinics meet this standard.
• NEED TO KNOW: This bill gives a deadline of September 1, 2023 (about a year) for clinics to upgrade their facilities to meet these standards, but these upgrades are extremely expensive . There are no incentives or funding being made available to assist clinics in upgrading these facilities.
• NEED TO KNOW: Abortion providers already follow strict standard regulations in their facilities. Both The Texas Medical Association and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists acknowledged that the proposal to turn all clinics into ASCs is not medically necessary for performing safe abortions.
•NEED TO KNOW: This point also requires that doctors performing abortions have admitting privileges at a hospital within a 30 mile radius of where the abortion is performed. 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, there is still a good chance thedoctor will not have admitting privileges.
C. The point of SB9 is to place restrictions on physicians when they are dispensing the abortion pill, RU-486.
• 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.
• NEED TO KNOW: SB5 seeks to force physicians to prescribe 600mg to patients when administering the abortion pill, RU-486. Even though when the FDA first set the 600mg suggested dosage amount was in the ’80s and it is common practice today that doctors normally only prescribe 200mg. The FDA accepts that doctors have the right when prescribing medication to use mandated dosage amounts OR evidence-based dosage amounts. Evidence has shown that 200mg is the effective amount necessary to terminate an abortion in most cases. FORCING doctors to prescribe COSTLY medication for NO MEDICAL reason is the goal of this point. It shows that Houston Senator Dan Patrick has absolutely no desire to do what is best for Texas Women.
It is important to remember that even if this legislation passes (which is sadly more than likely) we as a community need to focus on what happens next. We have to remember that this is an uphill battle and that with our newly energized progressive base we will defeat these attacks on women. Texas over the decades has become complacent in its role as a red state. Although we might lose this battle what’s important to note is that for the first time in decades we defeated them during round one. They might win round two but if we stick together and vote them out it will be impossible for them to win the war.
You can donate to Wendy Davis for future campaigns here.