One Year Since Wendy
It's been one year since Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis' historic 13-hour filibuster to stop politicians from pushing through a draconian anti-choice bill during a special legislative session.
Ever since Wendy's epic stand, NARAL Pro-Choice Texas has been working with allies on the ground to make sure women can continue to access abortion and reproductive-health care in the Lone Star state. But the energy we saw in Texas from activists standing up to join Wendy one year ago has spread far beyond Texas.
We've seen pro-choice champions in Congress and state legislatures across the country fight back against anti-choice politicians who will do whatever it takes - even breaking their own rules - to make it next to impossible for women and families to get the health care they need.
Anti-choice Sen. Lindsay Graham tried to use the anniversary of the conviction of the illegal back-alley butcher, Kermit Gosnell, to ramp up support for his national 20-week abortion ban. But Sen. Richard Blumenthal stood up to Sen. Graham and talked about how a ban would endanger women's lives and criminalize doctors.
Sen. Barbara Boxer joined him and talked about how the bill would drive women to rogue doctors or leave women with no choice by to try to self-abort. (One study in Texas showed that 7 percent of women who seek abortion care have already tried.) Sen. Harry Reid also called out Sen. Graham for using the debate to win votes.
In Michigan, when anti-choice politicians pushed legislation that would require women to buy a separate insurance plan for abortion care, even women who have been raped, state Sen. Gretchen Widmer spoke out and bravely shared her personal story of sexual assault for the very first time in public.
In Oklahoma, Republican state Rep. Doug Cox had it when fellow Republicans tried to ban coverage for emergency contraception for people who rely on Medicaid for their insurance. He bravely wrote an editorial and asked, "What happened to the party that I joined?" When these same politicians tried to push Texas-style restrictions, he condemned them for being "prejudiced against women."
Pro-choice lawmakers are not just speaking out and refusing to stay silent - they're pushing legislative strategies to expose the true agenda behind the flood of medically unnecessary anti-choice restrictions.
Oklahoma state Rep. Constance Johnson stood up to "personhood" legislation in her state.
The legislation could ban abortion and common forms of birth control by introducing a measure to ban "non-procreative ejaculation." Constance said:
"As a woman and a 31-year veteran of the legislative process in Oklahoma, I am increasingly offended by state law trends that solely focus on the female's role in the reproductive process. With Oklahoma's new, never-before-experienced Republican majority, we are seeing enactment of more and more measures that adversely affect women and their rights to access safe medical procedures when making reproductive-health care decisions."
Ohio state Sen. Nina Turner introduced legislation to require men to seek counseling before accessing Viagra to expose just how ridiculous it is for anti-choice politicians to assume that women who choose abortion haven't given that decision enough thought.
But pro-choice elected officials aren't the only people standing up for women's reproductive freedom. Pro-choice activists across the country have taken to the streets and to state capitals in masses to protest legislative attacks.
NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina helps organize rallies for "Moral Monday" to protest the GOP's extreme attacks, including laws to make it harder for people to vote, to weaken environmental protections, to cut funding for health care, and to close all but one of the state's reproductive-health clinics that provides abortion care. Thanks to thousands of progressive North Carolinians coming together week after week for months in different cities across the state, with hundreds arrested, these protests made national headlines.
In Missouri, pro-choice people organized a 72-hour people's filibuster to protest an extreme anti-choice bill that would require women to wait three days and make multiple visits to the single abortion provider within the state in order to get abortion care.
Not only are our champions exposing hypocrisy and holding anti-choice politicians accountable for restricting women's access to health care, but they're protecting and expanding reproductive freedom. In Congress, they've introduced the Women's Health Protection Act to wipe away all the unnecessary obstacles that are designed to make it impossible for women to get the reproductive health care they need.
When we speak out, our voices become a roar that cannot be ignored. Sen. Wendy Davis showed the nation that there are hundreds of thousands of pro-choice people who won't put up with the anti-choice agenda any longer, and she, along with all of our pro-choice champions, inspired so many people to take a stand for reproductive freedom for the very first time.
How will you use your voice?