SE Texas Activists Take To Austin To Protest Abortion Bill

The bill bans abortion after medical professionals can detect a heartbeat — effectively banning all abortions past six weeks. It also asks private citizens to take up enforcement by filing civil lawsuits against those who help a woman obtain an abortion, which could range from ride share drivers to health clinics. Those in favor of the bill say it protects the lives of unborn children.

“Our creator endowed us with the right to life, and yet, millions of children lose their right to life every year because of abortion,” Abbott said previously. “In Texas, we work to save those lives.”

Most states allow abortions until 20 or 24 weeks of pregnancy — when most fetuses would be likely to survive outside the womb.

It was one of many contentious bills passed through the Texas Legislature in recent months and one that is being watched by other states poised to enact similar laws, bolstering a movement to roll back the Supreme Court’s 1973 decision in Roe V. Wade — long considered a milestone for women’s rights and reproductive freedom.

And that was Howard’s line in the sand.

When she learned about an Oct. 2 protest scheduled at the state’s capitol — one of 600 that took place across the nation — she took to Facebook, asking others if they wanted to participate.

“At first, I thought we’ll just protest in Beaumont,” she remembered. When friend Gina Hinson suggested they join the Austin march, plans changed.

The day before the march, Howard, Hinson and Karen Corwin set out for Austin in a car filled with posters and crocheted pink hats that became a symbol of fourth-wave feminism after the 2017 Women’s March.

None of the three had ever been to a protest of this scope, which ultimately drew several thousand people, but all felt now was the time to make their voices heard.

“They crossed a line and are taking us back 50 years, and it’s time to get back out front, not just sit and watch it on T.V.,” Howard said, adding that in the wake of this and other recent legislation, “people look at Texas and think we’re all just these gun-toting rednecks, and it pisses me off that because we have this governor, people view us like that. It’s not fair, because we’re not all like that.”

When the trio arrived at the capitol early Saturday morning, they found themselves surrounded by thousands of other ‘not like that’ Texans.

They came from every corner of the state, representing multiple ages, races and sexual orientations.

“There were a lot of young people there, and that made me happy,” Hinson said. “When Roe v. Wade passed, I was a pre-teen - old enough to be aware (of what the law meant). Legal abortion has been a right since I’ve been an adult, so to see that go?” she said, her words trailing off.

“And this doesn’t stop abortion,” Hinson added. “It stops safe abortion.”

Corwin added that the newly-enacted law will impact people of color and low-income people disproportionately.

“Wealthy women — wealthy white women — will still be able to get an abortion,” she said.

Ultimately, the women agreed that the bill is about “controlling women’s bodies.”

“They’re messing with Texas, and they’re messing with Texas women,” Howard said.

It’s a step that these women, in concert with others, won’t let go unchallenged.

Earlier this month, their posters and voices added to the myriad of voices protesting the state’s decision.

Some of those came from performers already in town for South by Southwest, like Gina Chavez and Pussy Riot.

Politicians, including Cecile Richards and Wendy Davis, doctors and lawyers also took the podium.

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They all had stories to share.

“It was one inspirational speaker after another,” Corwin recalled.

Although they had a shared message, each provided a different kind of energy to the event — its mood not one of mourning a lost cause, but of energizing for the fight to come.

“For me, (the march) was inspirational and offered a camaraderie and was energizing for the future - that a lot of people in Texas feel the same as you,” Hinson said, adding, “It felt really good.”

It’s a message that they plan to carry forward

“The bottom line was that we need to get the vote out,” to make changes, Corwin said.

Hinson added, “it’s time to get back on the block walk” and be a part of the grass roots efforts to get voters to the polls.

Corwin plans to become a voter registrar, pay more attention to all the candidates and become active in local progressive groups.

Howard echoed those goals, saying, “I’m going to be more aware of what’s going on locally and get more active in the areas I’m passionate about.”

One race they’re already energized about is the 2022 governor’s race.

The women are eyeing Beto O’Rourke for a gubernatorial run, and if he does, the three vow to be involved in any way needed to help make the changes they believe are the best for Texas.

“Decades ago, women’s rights and civil rights were unrecognized for the sake of preserving the status quo. That was a comfortable position for those in power, but for those without, not so much. So, what “great” era are they referring to when they say to ‘make America great again?’ Great for who?” she asked. referencing President Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan.

“Don’t get me wrong — I am a patriot. But there were a lot of atrocities in that ‘great America.’ I don’t want to go back to that. I want a better America,” Howard said.

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Source : https://www.chron.com/news/article/SE-Texas-activists-take-to-Austin-to-protest-16531294.php

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