2013: The year that a lot of Texas women like me woke up…

to the fact that a bunch of conservative white men (and a few conservative white women) in suits believe that Texas women are incapable of making good reproductive choices for themselves and that therefore they (the aforesaid officials) need to take away some of those options. Continue reading

Advertisement

Pro-choice gathering at Texas Capitol on June 1, 2013

UPDATE: If you have to work on Monday (or are allergic to the sun/heat) and can’t participate in the rally, now you can come after dark for the march from south Congress to the Texas Capitol on Monday night at 8 pm. It’s also a Facebook event at https://www.facebook.com/events/166843946830616/ I’m going to see how my energy is.

Also, Jessica Luther has offered to post updates on the actual legislative process as it proceeds. Go here: http://jessicawluther.com/2013/06/30/update-on-tomorrows-rally-new-events-scheduled-hb2-swtw/.

~~~

I’ll be at the Capitol Monday out of respect for women’s rights to control their own bodies and make their own reproductive choices. I respect those who oppose abortion, as long as they don’t try to legislatively take away a woman’s right to make that very personal decision for herself, which is what the Texas legislature is trying to do under the guise of protecting women’s health.

I also know that I will be standing there for millions of other women and girls around the world, who just want to have the babies they know they can take care of.

I thought it would be a good idea to compile some helpful links if you are planning to go.

RSVP for Facebook events if you plan to attend

There are two events listed on Facebook for the opening of the second special session in Texas after the filibuster and protest that killed SB5 in the first special session:

  • Kill the Bill Volume 2 (with an awesome graphic of Wendy Davis’ head on Beatrice Kiddo’s/Uma Thurman’s body) starting at 10 am (organized by 6 individuals) and continuing until the vote is held. Screen Shot 2013-06-30 at 1.41.07 PM
  • Stand Up Monday – Rally at the Texas Capitol starting at 12 noon (organized by Stand With Texas Women) ending at 2 pm.

For both events, attendees can go sit in the Senate or House gallery to watch the proceedings when they start at 2 pm. Be quiet and respectful, or be escorted out or possibly arrested. The noise last Monday that prevented the vote from taking place before midnight came from those in the rotunda, under the dome, while those in the Senate gallery were slowly being escorted out (or arrested) for being loud. That may or may not happen again.

The vote on SB9/HB2 could happen very quickly (with as many dirty tricks as possible), given what just happened with SB5. I’m sure the legislators would like to be done before July 4, but the special session could last 30 days. Given that the House and Senate introduced different bills, though, it is unlikely they will agree and vote tomorrow. No one knows if there will be another filibuster.

It’s a good idea to know ahead of time whether you’re prepared to participate in acts of civil disobedience and face possible arrest. If you don’t want to be arrested, don’t let that scare you from coming. Your presence is important. You don’t have to participate in anything that would get you arrested, and please recognize that some people may choose to be arrested, but most will not.

Keep calm (and vocal in the appropriate place) and carry on! 

There’s an anti-abortion rally at 10:15 am as well. So far the numbers show the two pro-choice events have over 7,000 and over 5,000 RSVPing (respectively, and there’s no telling how many RSVPed to both), and <700 for the anti-abortion folks.

The pro-choice supporters will be wearing orange (nice choice for Austin, since it’s the color for The University of Texas just blocks away and many have orange shifts). The anti-abortion people are wearing blue.

Text of SB9

The text of SB9 (the number changed with the second special session — SB5 was from the first special session) can be read here. It’s only about the abortion pill. The bill was introduced by Dan Patrick  (Tea Party Republican).

HB2 isn’t available yet but supposedly will be exactly what was introduced in the first special session, both times by Jody Laubenberg (that very same elected official who said that rape kits “clean you out”). http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/tlodocs/832/billtext/pdf/SB00009I.pdf#navpanes=0.

Rebuttal to SB5

A nice rebuttal to SB5 can be found here (and the comments are worth reading): http://crypticphilosopher.com/2013/06/if-youre-planning-on-joining-the-next-round-of-sb5-protests-take-heed/. Excerpt below:

IN CONCLUSION, the bigger issue of the War on Women of which this bill is but one battle is that a primarily rich, white, old, male legislature is determining what SHOULD be a decision between a doctor, a woman, and whatever deity in which a woman believes (if any). They are not in there discussing the man’s obligation and role in a woman’s pregnancy in the first place, men’s rights to Viagra, standards for safe surgical procedures for vasectomies or prostate cancer, rape prevention measures, or appropriate and realistic sex education to prevent pregnancy in the first place.

Austin editorial puts it in context

An editorial from the Austin American-Statesman staff that puts SB5 in the larger context of women’s rights in recent times in Texas: http://www.mystatesman.com/news/news/opinion/davis-filibuster-shifts-abortion-debate-to-womens-/nYYmg/. Excerpt below:

It’s true that prolonged shouts of people packing the Senate gallery prevented a vote in the final minutes of the special session, and thus killed the bill. But the uproar coming from the chamber that night was not the noise of an unruly mob — it was the sound of civil disobedience. It was the tipping point in a steady stream of insults targeting women.

FAQ for SB9 protest

The FAQ for SB9 protest, created by the Kill the Bill creators,  is at https://docs.google.com/document/d/1FD9NpZjiNQzlQgR2k6mXd027rFGacGJ958y6tfHIquk/edit. Note that there are links to various online petitions, places to donate, and lots of good information. Excerpt:

To keep a protest peaceful, there should be an understanding among all protesters that violence and belligerence are not to be tolerated. Keep the confrontation and swearing at a minimum by making sure that everyone at your protest understands that it is a civil, peaceful demonstration. Do not show up drunk, or intoxicated in any way. Be mindful of fellow protesters that have children, have disabilities, or otherwise may need certain accommodations. (Yes, it’s a family friendly event!)

If someone is aggravating a situation, remember that mob mentality can turn from peaceful to riotous quickly. Stay calm, help others remain calm. Continue your peaceful protest. Shift focus from agitators, make jokes, remember why you are there and that being there for the long haul is oftentimes more important than making the news by getting arrested.

Note: sometimes standing your ground peacefully can get you arrested. If this is the case, people are likely more willing to post bail in support of your actions.

More good info including where to get orange shirts

NOWorangeThis site from NOW Austin has lots of good information for people in Austin, the rest of Texas, and those in other states/nations. Facebook and Twitter profiles are also available (see left). Includes links to information about House and Senate rules and rallies on Tuesday in other Texas cities like San Antonio, Beaumont, Fort Worth, Houston, as well as in Austin.  http://www.nowaustin.org/newsite/update-what-you-can-do-to-support-the-texas-feministarmy/.

Everything you wanted to know

Another good source of information is this page from Too Twisted for Color TV, including links to watching online if you can’t be there and how you can help. It’s updated frequently: http://tootwistedtv.blogspot.com/2013/06/everything-you-wanted-to-know-about-tx.html

Your rights at protest and demonstrations

The ACLU has a web page about knowing your rights at protests and demonstrations here: http://www.aclu.org/free-speech/know-your-rights-demonstrations-and-protests.

What should I do if my rights are being violated by a police officer?

It rarely does any good to argue with a street patrol officer. Ask to talk to a supervisor and explain your position to him or her. Point out that you are not disrupting anyone else’s activity and that the First Amendment protects your actions. If you do not obey an officer, you might be arrested and taken from the scene. You should not be convicted if a court concludes that your First Amendment rights have been violated.

Share your opinion NOW with your Texas state representative and senator

If you live in Texas, you can still email or call your Texas state senator and Texas state representative and voice your opinion clearly and respectfully. If you haven’t done that, please, please do it now! It would be so great if some of these officials, who thought they were representing their districts, found out that they actually were not doing that and changed how they intend to vote.

If you don’t know who represents you or how to get hold of them, go here: http://www.fyi.legis.state.tx.us/Home.aspx.

Get deputized to register voters

Since it is possible that this bill will be passed quickly despite our presence, one way to stay active is to make sure supporters are registered to vote. People will be deputizing voter registrars from 2:30-4:30 at 314 W. 11th, a Travis County office. It’s a Facebook event that asks you to join and fill out a form in advance so they can register hundreds if that many want. (Your information is kept private.) See more at https://www.facebook.com/events/272719459532877/.

I will update this with more good links if I discover them and have time.

~~~

Finally, protect yourself from the sun (sunscreen, hats, umbrellas), wear good shoes (you may be on your feet for hours), and stay hydrated.

If you have a personal wifi device, bring it! Make sure your phones and cameras are charged and ready to go! Tweet to #standwithtxwomen, #swtw, #feministarmy, #standwithwendy, #sb9, #hb2, and #txlege. If you want to follow me, I am @wellbodymind. Hope to see you there!

Finally, feel free to share this wherever you think it will help.

Last night at the capitol

So last night, June 25-26, 2013, I was at the Texas capitol to support efforts by the remarkable Texas state senator Wendy Davis and other Democrats in the Senate to filibuster a bill that would have set back women’s reproductive rights in this state 40 years. It would have closed down 37 of 42 abortion clinics in this state.

To go from 42 to 5 abortion clinics operating in a state with a population of over 25 million is unconscionable. It sure feels like a war on women. Rural women, poor women, overburdened women will be underserved. Unwanted children will be born. Including children of rape and incest.

After a few hours of debate (and after I went home exhausted, hoarse, deafened, and with sore feet from standing for hours), legislators finally (rightfully) agreed that the clock on the special session had indeed run out before the vote was complete.

We prevailed last night. The issue was galvanizing, and victory tasted sweet.

My favorite protest sign simply said, “That’s Mine”.

Governor Perry today called for another special session that will again include abortion legislation. So it ain’t over, not by a long shot, but I have to say that last night was electric. The Texas Democratic party and supporters of reproductive freedom are revitalized, and we showed that progressive forces can win in this oh-so-red state.

Anyway, a local Presbyterian minister who’s an activist for progressive causes did such a great job writing about it that I’m sharing what he wrote. To read the original, go to http://jimrigby.org.

About Last Night (Arab Spring Texas Style)

There could have been a riot last night in the Texas Capitol. I don’t know how to put what happened into words. I have been involved in Texas politics for maybe thirty years and I have never seen anything like it. I suspect few of us had.

After the Republicans appeared to have won the day and passed a bill that added a horrible burden on poor rural women seeking reproductive healthcare, as soon as it became clear that the Republicans were going to make up the rules as they went along, including a final dirty trick of letting the bill pass after time had expired, it was clear that the women of Texas had had enough.

Words fail. It was like a Kafka novel where humanity and the structure of a building merge. Suddenly, from the capitol extension, one could feel a vibration coming from the Rotunda where people had begun shouting and stomping and producing a noise that was so loud it was hard to make out the words being chanted.

At the time, I could not make out what people were saying, but the men were chanting a refrain and the women were answering. It turns out the chant began with the men asking, “Whose house is it?” and the women responding in deafening thunder, “Our house!” Through the early years of this movement in Texas I always expected to be one of a handful of men at such a gatherings. My eyes filled with tears as I realized those days are over. The women of Texas have found their beautiful angry voice and the men of Texas have their back. We have all begun to realize that reproductive choice isn’t just a woman’s issue. It is a human rights issue as basic as any other.

The people seemed to realize they had to stop asking for their own power. They needed to stop asking permission to be fully human. When this bill passed, it could have been just one more indignity for Texas women. After all, the Republicans of Texas have launched a tireless assault on women for decades. As one more anti-choice bill passed in the Texas House and then Senate, suddenly a realization seemed to dawn on the masses all at once. They realized that these Republicans will never stop trying to control Texas women. They will never really listen to what Texas women have to say. And they will cheat at every turn because they believe they are right by definition.

After the bill appeared to pass another reading, people ran toward the rotunda for what might mean certain arrest. One Republican talked about removing the people if they would not be quiet, and then something happened. I saw a look of determined peace in the peoples’ eyes as they ran toward what might be their own arrest. It was the peace one only sees in those who have given themselves to do their duty at any price.

As the politicians struggled to justify their anti-democratic actions, democracy broke out all around them. It must have been hard to think with apocalyptic thunder ringing from the heart of the building. In the end, the Republicans agreed to throw out the bill. I have no idea what happened behind closed doors, but this much seems clear. Last night would not have happened had the people lacked a revolutionary courage and a willingness to be civilly disobedient. Nor could last night have happened had there not been people who stayed to work within the system to translate the peoples’ energy into law. And we must not forget the x factor. Last night could not have happened had not at least one Republican done the right thing. Republicans are not our enemies, they are our friends, but they cannot be our overlords. This world belongs to us all and if necessary the people will rise up to make it so.

The evening ended with Cecile Richards leading us in a song that, as a native Texan, always seemed trite, ”The Eyes of Texas Are Upon You.” I have never heard the song as a revolutionary anthem until last night. Our nation is a representative democracy. And, as Jefferson warned, if the powers that be do not represent the people, then the people must rise up and remind them where all real legitimate power resides, not in the government but in the people. Last night Republicans were served notice that they must represent every Texan or find new employment.

The Eyes of Texas are upon you, 
All the live long day. 
The Eyes of Texas are upon you, 
You can not get away. 
Do not think you can escape them 
At night or early in the morn- 
The Eyes of Texas are upon you 
‘Till Gabriel blows his horn.