Friday, June 21, 2013

I'm Too Damn Young to Say That I'm Too Damn Old to be Protesting This Shit


I've had this button since 1992. What the fuck?
Below is my testimony from last night's HB60 hearing, delivered around 11:45 pm after I'd been waiting ten hours in the Reagan building. I want to thank all of the legislators who stayed late in to the night and the state troopers and other staff in the Reagan building who I'm sure thought they'd be going home at 5 pm as usual. To those who organized this event, congratufuckinglations! What a huge success. I'm thrilled to have been a part of it. Thank you to those who ordered pizza for us, thanks to Buzzmill coffee for donating fuel at midnight to keep the party going, and thanks to all the HB60 supporters who helped us run out the clock. There will be another hearing on Sunday at 1pm for the Senate version of the bill, so if you are in Texas and couldn't make it yesterday, dust off yer boots and come on down!

My mother is 63 years old and she went to Puerto Rico in 1969 to have an illegal abortion, an abortion that cost $700 at the time, an amount comparable to more than $7000 today. She took me to the March for Women's Lives in Washington on April 4, 1992, when the Supreme Court was preparing to hear the Planned Parenthood vs. Casey case. I attended the second March for Women's Lives in 2005, the same year I testified in the Virginia legislature against a bill just like this put forward by Ken Cuccinelli.

This mom spoke  about being pregnant and living in her car when she needed an abortion.
I am a board member for the Lilith Fund, which provides financial support to women who are most affected by the laws you pass--poor women who cannot afford to pay for their abortion. Many of them have children already, some are homeless, 7% report to us that they are rape victims, 9% report abusive relationships and this abortion is what they need to escape the man who beats her.


But no matter their circumstances, all of these Texans have the same rights as those who can afford to travel farther or take off work to comply with the laws requiring medically unnecessary treatments like forced ultrasounds. Laws like HB60 will close clinics but they will not stop abortion--merely make it harder to get and unsafe.

TWATSS, the Texas Women's Access Transportation Safety Service Proposed by Lilith Fund board member to evacuate women whose rights are abridged by HB60
My mother still has buttons from the 1970s with coat hangers on them and, I'll be honest, I always thought they were kind of over the top. Though her illegal abortion was performed by a doctor who practiced safely, she knew of women who died from having back alley illegal abortions and many others who were forced to have sex with the "doctors" as insurance that they wouldn't turn them in. I never really felt the threat of illegal abortion until I came to Texas, when it became abundantly clear that our legislature's dramatic biennial performances of "protecting life" and women's health totally outweighed the constantly grinding real need to support women and families.

Research published in 2010 in the journal Reproductive Health Matters found that women in Texas already go to Mexico to get misoprostol directly from pharmacists to induce abortion, and attempts at self-abortion using misoprostol and other, more dangerous methods are more common among women who have difficulty accessing care. These numbers will increase if this bill is passed, and dangerous clinics like those operated by Kermit Gosnell in Philadelphia will flourish because women, if you force them to, will risk everything--including their lives--to get abortions.

Susan B. Anthony, a Quaker feminist routinely valorized by pro life activists, said this in reference to abortion* in 1875: “The work of woman is not to lessen the severity or the certainty of the penalty for violation of the moral law, but to prevent this violation by the removal of the causes which lead to it”

Putting aside the myth propagated by pro life activists that Ms. Anthony was antiabortion, which she was not, I am also a Quaker woman and I challenge those who want to restrict abortion to think about the ways these laws increase to the need for this procedure and how that hurts women. Thanks to our governor, more than one fourth of women in Texas lack health insurance--were number two in basketball in the nation but number one in failing our women.

If we want to reduce abortions, especially those that happen in the late term, we can work together to increase women's access to healthcare in Texas. HB60 doesn't do that. What this bill does do is continue the Texas republicans' apparent effort to keep poor people poor and women in their place. I've seen a lot of those types of laws get passed a lot in Texas. Too bad that, tonight, it looks like that dog just won't hunt. I want to thank the legislators who worked so hard to make this night possible because with this bill you pushed Texas women to the limit and we are pissed. The Spurs lost the Finals and this is the top story out of Texas tonight.

I got the button that I'm wearing today at the March for Womens Lives when I was just 11 years old and I am too damn young to say that I am too damn old to be protesting this shit. [DROPS MIC]

If you're not in Texas and want to make a difference, why not donate $10 to the Lilith Fund?

*Anthony was also talking about infanticide, which, in the 19th century when abortion was even harder to get, was common.

4 comments: