Beto O’Rourke, Texas democrats call for abortion rights at rally in East Austin


Kara Hawley

Gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke speaks to the Pan American Neighborhood Park crowd on June 26, 2022. O’Rourke held a rally for reproductive rights in response to SCOTUS’ decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Claire Stevens, News Reporter

Gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke called for a restoration of the right to abortion in Texas, along with other state and local Democratic candidates and leaders from abortion advocacy organizations, at a rally in East Austin on Sunday evening.

“If this were about life, then those 19 children in Uvalde, Texas would still be alive, enjoying their summer break right now,” O’Rourke said at the rally. “This is about controlling the lives and the bodies of the women of Texas.”

O’Rourke and other speakers addressed thousands of Austinites carrying signs with pro-choice slogans at Pan American Neighborhood Park. The rally followed the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade, a 1973 decision that ensured the right to an abortion in the U.S. Speakers also condemned laws in Texas that now ban abortions from the point of fertilization.

O’Rourke said if voters turn out for him and other Democrats, such as attorney general candidate Rochelle Garza and lieutenant governor candidate Mike Collier, in November, they can overturn Texas’ current abortion ban. 

Garza said if elected, she will not enforce Texas’ “trigger law,” which will ban all abortions 30 days after the Supreme Court’s judgment.

“I will partner with prosecutors across the state to protect access to abortion,” Garza said. “We cannot persecute families for making the right decision for themselves.”

Wendy Davis, a former state senator who filibustered for over 13 hours in 2013 to block a bill that would have closed most of Texas’s abortion clinics, said the fight for abortion access must continue.

“We are able to show people not just across this state, but across this country, that when you take our reproductive autonomy away, we will rise up and we will make change,” Davis said.

Aimee Arrambide, the executive director for the abortion advocacy group Avow Texas, said with the new ruling, half of the country will face the same crisis Texas has since lawmakers passed Senate Bill 8 last year. S.B. 8 restricted abortions after six weeks.

“Make no mistake, abortion is essential,” Arrambide said. “It is health care that everyone needs access to.”

O’Rourke acknowledged the challenges ahead for him and fellow Democrats hoping to replace Republicans in November’s election.

“We now know that progress is not linear or inevitable,” O’Rourke said. “These are times not for the weak of heart, but we are strong, big-hearted people.”