Posts tagged "War On Women"

July 10th, 2013

What I have seen with respect to these abortion bills is unprecedented in our Texas Legislature. The measures in the bill we will vote on today were considered during the Regular session. They all failed. They were again brought up in the first special session. They again failed. Through each special session, we have seen high levels of public participation, on both sides. But, overwhelmingly, we have seen opposition.

We have seen opposition in such large numbers that, in the first special session, the House committee vote had to be delayed by a day. We have seen opposition in such large numbers that citizens observing the Senate here in the Capitol delayed the final vote on the bill, ensuring that it did not pass during the first special session.

Despite this vast opposition, today we find ourselves called back to consider these resurrected measures. The Texas Legislature is working hard to pass these measures into law.

Why are we working so hard to pass this legislation? Proponents of the bill talk about protecting the unborn and preventing abortion. If we care about protecting children, there is much we can do to help them, but in my nearly 20 years as a State Representative, I have never seen the Legislature work this hard to act in the interest of born children. In fact, the only time it has addressed public school funding is in reaction to a lawsuit — never proactively to provide children enough funding for their schools.

Nor have we worked hard enough to protect or help children who lack stable homes. As of May 31, 2013, 6,413 children are waiting to be adopted. These children have parents whose parental rights have been terminated. As a child gets older, her chances of getting adopted decrease. Children aged 0-2 years exited care by adoption at a rate of 35 %, while children aged 14 and up exited care by adoption at a rate of 14 %.

These are real problems faced by Texas children that we could address in this legislature.

If we care about preventing abortion, there’s another way to do it without risking women’s health: we can work to prevent unintended pregnancies. When women have access to family planning services, unintended pregnancies are far less likely. By adequately funding women’s healthcare, we can help women get access to those services. Instead, though, this legislature has a history of cutting funding. The deep cuts of the 82nd Legislature forced family planning clinics across the state to shut down, and women to lose access to those services. That same session, Planned Parenthood — which had provided healthcare services to nearly half the women in the Women’s Health Program — was banned from participating in that program. The Women’s Health Program is intended to give women access to health screenings and family planning services. Despite providing these important services, a major provider was banned because of ideology. While I was happy to see that we increased funding for women’s health this session, there is still much we can do to increase access to family planning services and preventative care.

We can also work to prevent unintended pregnancies by better educating our children. Our state has placed heavy emphasis on abstinence-only education. In turn, we have one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the nation. Texas is ranked 47th in the country for teen birth rates according to 2012 data released by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. We should be working to reform that. Requiring that comprehensive sex education be taught in schools would surely help to prevent unintended teen pregnancies.

These are serious problems Texans face. I’d like to see us work as hard as we have during these special sessions to pass measures to solve them. We’ve been focusing our efforts, instead, on bills that do little more than address ideology. Let’s make no mistake today: the bill we are voting on doesn’t solve problems like the ones I’ve been discussing. In fact, the authors have struggled to identify the impetus for the bill. We have not heard of specific problems or complications at current clinics. We have not heard of any specific need for doctors to have admitting privileges. We have not heard specifically how having the procedures performed in ambulatory surgical centers will increase safety. We have not heard why a woman needs to go to an ambulatory surgical center to take a pill. However, we have heard from major medical organizations — the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Texas Medical Association, and Texas Hospital Association — that they oppose to the bill. We have also heard from DSHS that there have only been 5 deaths from abortions since 2000, with the last one occurring in 2008. (This is contrast to the 737 maternal deaths from 2000 to 2010).

This bill does not solve any problems, but it will cause them:

37 of the state’s 42 clinics will be forced to shut their doors. The 5 remaining clinics will be in urban areas. Access to these services will be severely restricted for women in rural areas.
Women will be forced to go to an Ambulatory Surgical Center — one of those 5 remaining clinics — even for a medical abortion; that is, to take a pill.
Doctors will lose discretion in treating individual patients: the bill sets forth medical protocol for doctors administering medical abortions.
The Legislature will intrude on deeply personal decisions intended to be made by a woman in consultation with her doctor.
In short, Texas women will lose important access to these services. Losing access to healthcare makes no one safer.

We have been working hard to pass this bill. We were elected to the Legislature to work hard for Texans. But we should make sure we direct our hard work to best achieve our goals, and to best serve our constituents. By passing this bill, we do neither of these things. Instead we pander to primary Republican voters. Texas children deserve better than that. Texas women deserve better than that.

All Texans deserve better than that.

— Representative Jessica Farrar’s Closing Remarks on House Bill 2 on July 9, 2013

June 28th, 2013

Emotional Rollercoasters, Texas, and an Amazing Week

I’m thinking about going to Austin to testify to a committee, I told my Dad that Wednesday, who is staying with me on and off while he finishes lightly restoring / remodeling a home we lived in for over 20 years.  He questioned me, made a few valid arguments, and even though the trip is just a bit under 3 hours from my door to the Capitol, I shrugged it off because I had an amazingly busy Thursday and Friday.  Things I could do, but didn’t want to put off.  

With three hours sleep the night before, I was desperate to get to sleep. Something, I’m not quite sure what, stopped me.  Check in with Twitter?  Just see what, if anything is going on?  …and boom, I was reading quoted testimony after quoted testimony.  Heartbreaking stories that had me in tears.  I found what the Texas Legislature shamefully calls a live feed as brave women and a few men told a group of legislators that were judging them about personal and emotional decisions they had made for a variety of reasons.  I watched as these women were called “reptitive” by a dismissive group, intent on passing a law that most Texans do not want.  I watched as Chairman Cook left the room.  Came back.  Testimony cut off, officially. 

I could not stop watching. 

I also could not stop feeling like I should have been there.  In my gut I knew I was supposed to go, but I let my Dad talk me out of it, not out of his own maliciousness, just out of his own wonder.  

When I heard the call that the House would reconvene on HB60 and HB16 on Sunday, I knew instinctively I wanted to be there.  I am, however, navigationally challenged, and so, I wanted to either ride with someone or drive a group.  I ended up doing the latter.  I was sure we’d be home in a few hours.  Maybe by 1 a.m.  

I was not expecting to leave the Capitol at 4 a.m.  But, I sat, in the gallery, watching a number of wonderful Texas Representatives argue passionately, using parliamentary procedure after parliamentary procedure.  Amendment discussion after amendment discussion.  I watched men and women, a good deal of them from Houston, who had already had my support for years, fight, realizing they would have my support for life, and I would always be available to them for how hard they were working.  

I did not elect to stay in the Capitol, because I had a Monday monthly commitment to the Ironworkers.  I have to address the members every 4th Monday, and though I got some sleep, I was running on B12, caffeine and whatever I could.  As is the custom, I take questions after I report on the necessary items: things that directly affect this group.  I talk about voting rights (the Shelby County v Holder decision was handed down the next day, though I’d been telling them for months that I was waiting on that decision), screening committees, and do what I can to get issues facing these mostly men and a handful of women addressed.  

I knew how big a thing this was, when I got the question.  I apologized for not being that sharp, explaining after I was fumbling on a few words of my prepared outline that it had been a long night, that I was at the Capitol and one of my favourite members, asked: “What’s going on with that bill…?”  

…and as I spoke, I had rapt attention.  Even my trouble makers who hate hearing about politics and voting were giving me their total attention.  

Words cannot express that moment.   I just knew.  I just knew that Tuesday was going to be important. 

I tried like anything to get out of the office of the other union I work with as quickly as possible.  I was anticipating a 10 a.m. meeting, begging, pleading.  I would definitely be back at 10 a.m. Wednesday.  I’d work Thursday - Friday, because I’m only in that office three days a week.  But, my boss was having herself, a day.  So, finally, at 3:30, I finished what I could, left a note on her desk and took off.  

We got back to the capitol about 7.  Almost immediately got into line.  When I got there, it was just starting to fill out the second floor.  By the time Wendy’s third strike was sustained by Lt. Governor David Dewhurst, I was in a little alcove, close to the Rotunda on the third floor.  I was rapidly running out of battery power, and hoping the line would move as quickly as it had been.  I was, honestly, on track to be in the gallery at midnight.  We had made perfect timing, but I should have known.  

There was an immediate uproar from the crowd.  The chants of “Shame!” started immediately as thousands - now THOUSANDS was a word we could use in place of hundreds - were shocked and angered.  The unfairness of the situation just really, ridiculously, getting to be too much.  (No matter what anyone else says, the sonogram bill was absolutely germaine to SB5, if nothing else, as an example of the current indignities a woman must go through in this state and the laws a doctor must follow, no matter how cruel they are to a mother who is losing a child that she most desperately wants to keep but can’t, through no one’s fault or insufferable to a woman that knows she just can’t have another child, or how intolerable it feels to make a decision, only to have a doctor be forced to place an intrusive and unnecessary medical device into your body and explain verbally and in detail the current state of the embryo or fetus.  

I was outside the Senate Chamber doors, where people were rushing, when my phone was dying.  I went downstairs to the Legislative Conference Center (FOOD, because food hadn’t been a huge concern, either and now was) and, I’d already witnessed the immediate aftermath, knowing we were going to be here for some time and my phone was dead.  

As I sat, recharging, both body, spirit, and phone, I watched drama unfold all around us.  Lines to get into the Capitol stretched to 11th street, according to reports.  Troopers were called in.  We were told the Capitol was on lock down.  At first, we were told we couldn’t leave and no one could enter.  Then we realized you could leave, but probably not enter.  

I watched as brave men and women who had been told to be respectful of the chamber, who had been silent for fear of being thrown out of OUR house, by men that should be afraid of us because they are directly in power as a result of the people and who had also disrespected the testimony of women and men facing the most emotional and personal decisions of their lives, stayed on a phone call and laughed.  I watched Leticia ask, “at what point must a female senator raise her hand or her voice to be recognized over her male colleagues?” 

I watched the bonfire that Wendy had spent all day building and the match that Leticia lit, just explode into the gallery.  And, we all screamed.  The capitol erupted into chants and we just needed to hold it for 10 more minutes, as Lt. Governor David Dewhurt said something like “roll call will not be called until there is order in the chamber!”

….and my immediate reaction, out loud was, “Did he honestly say that? What a dumb ass… because if that’s all it takes… scream away…”  And, I was hoping, upon hope that the men and women in the chamber would do just that.  I was ready to figure out bail money for them, contribute $100 at a minimum to a group fund if they were arrested en masse.  I was sad that I wasn’t inside the Chamber, frustrated by my place in line… but so grateful to be witnessing these events unfold. 

And the swell of pride that I felt from Thursday night has not let up.  I am so incredibly proud of the women of Texas: Wendy, Leticia, (Sylvia), Jessica, Alma, Senfronia, Dawnna, et al.  So grateful for their male colleagues: Kirk, Rodney, Royce, John, Gene, etc… 

But more than that, I am SO grateful to have met and learned about so many wonderful women that are fighting.  When you work in politics in this state, the sheer apathy sometimes can get to you.  It was a sight to see our state Capitol filled with THOUSANDS of Texas incensed at this entire debacle.  We filled it like we were attending a concert or a football game.  We filled it and raised the roof.  We proved that this state is not under a one party control, that there is hope.  

The whole world learned that Texas is not full of just Republicans… and, words cannot describe the emotional toll the entire week took on me.  

I am so incredibly damn proud of the women in this state.  So damn proud.  

….and I’m looking forward to the next battle in this ridiculous War on Women.  

August 27th, 2012

*coughs* Yeah… I’ve been saying for MONTHS that women will change this election cycle exponentially and that soft Republican women, will, for the most part, shift to the Democratic party… and that anyone running as a Democrat would do well to target these women… 

But, I obviously don’t know what I’m talking about… 

The comment in the above video about “this is personal” is exactly why those women will either not vote or vote Democrat… They just have to be asked for their vote.  You’d be amazed how willing they are to have the conversations about why they’re pissed with the Republican Party… 

But, yeah… I don’t know what I’m talking about… 

Can’t wait for the numbers analysis after the election… should prove to be intriguing.. especially to those people that lose because they discount how important the WOMAN issue will be this year.  

April 16th, 2012

That’s because for many Latter-day Saint women, staying at home to raise children is less a lifestyle choice than religious one — a divinely-appreciated sacrifice that brings with it blessings, empowerment, and spiritual prestige.

These doctrinally-defined gender roles aren’t entirely unique — they’ve been preached by various sects for centuries — but Mormons have proven uniquely unwilling to bend them to fit modern times. The Church took heat in the ’70s for waging a high-profile campaign against the Equal Rights Amendment; and even today, Mormon women remain twice as likely to be homemakers as non-Mormons, regardless of income levels.

- Excert from Why Ann Stayed Home by McKay Coppins via Buzzfeed

So, you would think that Mitt might listen to his own faith and be willing to help more mothers be able to make the choice that Ann did, but apparently not.  That’s kind of troubling.  Do we even know who is pulling Mitt’s strings, or is there some complicated diagram centered on which audience he is speaking to.  He’s even worse than W at this point. 

April 5th, 2012

If the Democrats said we had a war on caterpillars and every mainstream media outlet talked about the fact that Republicans have a war on caterpillars, then we’d have problems with caterpillars. It’s fiction

- Republican National Committee Chariman Reince Priebus’s response to criticism facing the GOP’s “War on Women”. 

I swear, you cannot make this shit up.  I don’t know what’s worse, the fact that he’s comparing women to caterpillars, or that he’s being completely obtuse about what the policies of his party actually are.  Is he really so out of touch with the rest of the country, or at least with 51% of its population?  

March 22nd, 2012

‘We Have No Choice’: One Woman’s Ordeal with Texas’ New Sonogram Law

The Right Not to Know - The Texas Observer

This is important. This is the first article I’ve read about the direct result of all these “laws” and “amendments” that are being tossed around in regards to abortion. It’s not about a hypothetical situation. It’s not someone’s opinion. It’s not about a conservatives and women’s rights. This is one woman’s story of her wanted baby and her unwanted abortion and everything that falls in between.

I just don’t understand how anyone could be on the other side of this issue after reading her story.

(via tinsely)

I will always reblog this story… Always.  

(via courageouscampaign)