PRO-CHOICE DEFENDERS in Texas, I thank you

This is a conglomeration of posts I did today over on my new tumblr site, Keep Your Boehner Out of My Uterus.


I, scatx, creator and administrator of this tumblr, live in Texas.  While I know there is lots of legislation trying to curb the right to abortion throughout the nation, I am most keenly aware of what is going down in my own state legislature right now.

I posted earlier this week about our anti-choice governor, Rick Perry, and the fact that the first piece of legislation to be debated and voted on in the House this session would be a bill requiring women who want an abortion to first view a sonogram.  Instead of trying to tackle the massive budget crisis that our state is facing, we are instead focusing on legally curtailing a woman’s right to bodily autonomy.

The person proposing the legislation is Rep. Sid Miller:

House Bill 15, sponsored by state Rep. Sid Miller, R-Stephenville, requires a doctor performing an abortion to conduct the sonogram at least 24 hours before the procedure was to take place. The doctor also is required to show the woman the sonogram image, play the sound of the fetal heartbeat for her and describe in some detail the image that appears on the sonogram. The woman does not have to view the sonogram or hear the heartbeat, although she still would have to hear the doctor’s description.

Miller’s bill is a more stringent version of Senate Bill 16, sponsored by state Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, which passed two weeks ago. Patrick’s bill, approved by a vote of 21-10, requires the sonogram to be performed within two hours of the abortion. It also makes an exception for women who have been the victim of rape or incest or where the fetus has fatal abnormalities. The House version does not allow exceptions. (via)

The legislation PASSED the House.  Miller won.  Women and children lost…again.

But there were a lot of Democratic (of course) representatives yesterday who stood up and spoke on behalf of women and children in this state.  And I want to thank them.  While it is hard to listen to what anti-choice people in my state have to say about me, a woman, I was heartened to see what these elected officials were saying.  It’s good to know that even if the numbers aren’t on their side, the reps are still fighting the good fight.  I am going to give each one them their own post to highlight their awesomeness and as an antidote for the real-life beliefs of Boehner et al. that go into the jokes we tell on this tumblr.


#1: Rep. Jessica Farrar (D-Houston)

While she questioned Miller, R-Stephenville, on the bill, state Rep. Jessica Farrar, D-Houston, attempted to pierce Republicans’ argument that the bill was not about abortion, but about providing “informed consent” for women.

“It seems to me that the motive of this bill is to get women not to have abortions,” she said, asking Miller if he agreed with that statement.

“That’s fine with me,” he responded. (via)


#2: Rep. Carol Alvarado (D-Houston)

The debate was sometimes uncomfortable. Intent on highlighting the invasive nature of sonograms during the early part of a pregnancy, state Rep. Carol Alvarado, D-Houston, asked how a woman unclothed from the waist down, with her “legs in the stirrups very far apart” was supposed to “get up and walk away” if she did not want to view the sonogram or hear the fetus’ heartbeat.

“I think it’s about shaming women, humiliating women and embarrassing women,” she said, adding, “Not even inmates in prison are forced to undergo such invasive procedures.” (via)


#3: Rep. Harold Dutton (D-Houston)

State Rep. Harold Dutton, D-Houston, offered an amendment that would, in the event that a woman decided to carry her child to term after undergoing a sonogram as required by the bill, require the state to pay for that child’s college tuition. When that didn’t work, Dutton proposed that the state pay for the child’s health care until age 18. That failed, too. He followed up with a similar amendment that only went up to age 6, but with no more success.

Dutton told the members that such amendments signaled that the state feels less responsibility to children after they are born. “We want to see all these children around, but the state of Texas ends its obligation to that child when it’s born,” he said. “We want it born, but we don’t want to do our duty.” (via)


#4: Rep. Marisa Marquez (D-El Paso)

State Rep. Marisa Marquez (D-El Paso) offered an amendment that would have allowed pregnant women, who chose to not get an abortion, to apply for a court order requiring the father of the child to undergo a vasectomy, if the pregnancy occurred outside of marriage and the father previously had two or more children outside of marriage with two or more women.

State Rep. Mike Villarreal (D-San Antonio) asked Marquez if it was her intent to insert a “severability clause” in the bill.

Miller opposed the amendment, saying lawmakers had already been receiving concerns from constituents about budget reductions. “I’m going to have to draw the line and say no more cuts,” he said. (via)


#5: Rep. Dawnna Dukes (D-Austin)

State Rep. Dawnna Dukes (D-Austin) said she thinks the legislation is a “tactic to try to frighten the woman into not having the procedure, as though she already didn’t have the mental capacity to make the decision.”

“I respectfully disagree. Thank you for your comments,” Miller said. (via)


#6: Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-San Antonio)

“So why would we be considering a big-government kind of bill?” Castro asked during discussion on the House floor. “Do you feel that the author and others that support the bill feel that women are just too dumb to make a decision they’ve contemplated for quite awhile?” (via)


3 thoughts on “PRO-CHOICE DEFENDERS in Texas, I thank you

  1. Trigger Warning: description of ultrasound procedure

    listening to these debates has been disheartening, to put it mildly. as someone who has had a vaginal ultrasound (totally willingly for standard medical reasons), i know how very intrusive they are. as one rep pointed out, what we are debating is NOT “the jelly on the belly” that you see on television. it’s a probe that has to be inserted into the woman’s vagina and moved around quite a bit to get the right image. it’s not easy. it’s not fast. it’s not comfortable. and it’s most certainly not something you could get up from the table and walk away from without hurting yourself, your doctor and/or the equipment. the average woman doesn’t have the capability of simply “tuning that out” as some have suggested, either. having it forced on you, even if it was a doctor you trusted who was truly just doing the bare bones procedure to follow the letter of the law, could most certainly leave some women with emotional scars not unlike those you see with rape victims. just because you sign a release, that the state FORCED you to sign to receive treatment, doesn’t mean you consent in the way we would like that word to mean.

  2. I am so glad Texas H.B. 15 is getting such wide coverage on feminist sites and others.

    I am also proud that I live in El Paso, TX because Marisa Marquez is one of our representatives. She was supported in her amendment efforts by newly-elected Rep. Naomi Gonzalez, also an El Pasoan.

    I recommend everyone concerned about this issue read H.B. 15.

    It will benefit the crisis pregnancy centers that perform sonograms by providing more pregnant women coming through their doors. (Sec. 171.052(a)(2)(D) and (a)(3))

    It is hypocritical of the bill to state that one of its intents is to, “protect the physical and psychological health and well-being of pregnant women.” What woman wants to go through a vaginal sonogram and hear all about a fetus about which she has made the difficult decision to abort? Thus, the sonogram is not protective of the woman’s psychological health and well-being, but damaging on both fronts.

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