Texas women aren’t going to take abortion restrictions lightly

Leslie Tisdale

Editor's Note: This piece is one in a series of op-eds written by UT students that The Daily Texan will be publishing in response to the ongoing debate in the Texas Legislature over enacting stricter abortion regulations.

Last Thursday, June 20, was a tense night, as any Texan would tell you. Not only did the San Antonio Spurs fail to gain a fifth championship ring, but the Texas Legislature failed to provide women with the right to tell their stories.

House Bill 60, sponsored by state Rep. Jodie Laubenberg, R-Parker, would cut the number of clinics able to provide abortion procedures in the state of Texas from 42 to five by requiring them to meet a higher level of standards. In the whole state, just five. House Bill 16, also sponsored by Rep. Laubenberg, prohibits abortion procedures after the fetus is 20 weeks old.

At the hearing on House Bill 60 and House Bill 16, upwards of 800 intelligent and angry women flooded the Capitol building, most with  testimony they had written beforehand. There were overflow rooms of people wanting to be heard by the body of legislators intending to limit their right to choose. (That body, the State Affairs Committee, eventually approved the legislation with a vote of 7-2.) Most women cited their constitutional rights, the fact that this battle was fought and won 40 years ago with Roe v. Wade and that they were speaking on behalf of the poor and rural women who would lose access to reproductive healthcare as a result of these bills passing.  At 1 a.m., Chairman Byron Cook, R-Corsicana, told the women that while their testimonies were impassioned, they were repetitive, and they would therefore no longer be allowed to share them. One woman told a story of how she was raped and beaten by her husband, while another told a story of being molested by a family member when she was too young to know how women conceived. If Cook found these stories “repetitive,” that is a testament to how twisted the balance of power is between the genders  and that measures need to be taken to ensure rape and sexual assault are not woven into our society’s fabric.

For many women, it seems as if men have always wondered why women carry on about their rights- I mean, women get to vote now, don’t we? But women who take a stand are called FemiNazis and over-emotional, or else accused of playing the “woman” card to gain ground. We have been told what jobs are appropriate for us, where in the household we belong (the kitchen), and at what age or under what circumstances it is appropriate to have children. Maybe society hasn’t progressed as much as men seem to think.

Obviously steps need to be taken to lessen the frequency of pregnancies by providing comprehensive sex education in schools and ensuring our rape culture is fixed. But if the time comes when a woman becomes pregnant and wishes to terminate the pregnancy, the procedure should be safe and accessible, and the choice to have it performed should be hers alone.

Texas women are mad as hell, and we are not going to take it.

Tisdale is a political communications senior from Corpus Christi.