Stop messing with Texans’ reproductive freedom

Lloyd Doggett, Contributor

Editor’s note: This column was submitted to the Texan by a member of the UT community and first appeared as part of the October 5 flipbook. 

On September 1, state Republicans’ dangerous, radical vigilante law went into effect — designed to end Roe v. Wade protections in Texas, cutting off access to care for almost all across our state.

For that great American cry “Let Freedom Ring,” Republicans here in Texas have substituted “let vigilantes run free.” In their draconian new law, Senate Bill 8, they encourage neighbors to spy on neighbors and prop up vigilantes to take away individuals’ fundamental right to decide their own fate. Since it cuts off access to abortions for all after six weeks, it essentially stops access to abortion before many know they are pregnant, and makes access totally impossible for minors, who face longer approval processes and hurdles. This repellant law allows any anti-choice extremist to seek a minimum of $10,000 bounties on a driver, a physician or anyone who may have offered counsel to a person in need. This law is such an incredible overreach that the first lawsuit was filed by an Arkansas man convicted of tax fraud. You can walk into the Texas Capitol armed and mask-less unimpeded, but a patient cannot walk into a clinic un-accosted.

To them, we say: stop messing with Texans’ reproductive freedoms. Stop messing with the right to liberty and safety of pregnant people.

I have been inspired by the student protestors who have shown such bravery to stand up for the right to choose and against this extremist law, aimed at restricting Texans’ freedoms and further burdening vulnerable populations. Strong words at a protest from chemistry sophomore Nastassja Martin: “We believe that we have the right to get abortions … A lot of people that I’ve talked to have been scared to come (to the Capitol) and do this, but we think this is a constitutional right.”

I’ve joined Longhorns at recent Texas Capitol protests, including the Women’s March this weekend, and also brought my protests to the halls of the U.S. Capitol. In the House Ways and Means Committee, on which I serve, Texas Republican Rep. Kevin Brady introduced another amendment to further limit abortion access in federal health programs. I worked with my Democratic colleagues to successfully defeat that amendment, while decrying their relentless assault on Americans’ freedoms.

The Biden Administration is defending Texans affected by the abortion ban in the courtroom, and we are working to defend them in Congress. In the House, we approved the Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA), of which I am a sponsor, and which was coauthored by Texas Democrat Rep. Veronica Escobar. Though it faces long odds in the Senate with the filibuster blocking necessary progress on this, voting rights, criminal justice reform and more, we will continue the struggle.

Rep. Doggett is a U.S. Representative from Texas. He is also an alumnus of The University of Texas at Austin.