Results tagged “Wendy Davis” from Blog for Choice
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?
We're delighted to honor some notable state lawmakers who have fought back against extreme anti-choice legislation against all odds in the 23rd edition of our annual report Who Decides? The Status of Reproductive Rights in the States. These state lawmakers truly represent the pro-choice majority, and they champion women's reproductive rights in some states that may need them the most.
- One honoree we're highlighting this year is Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis.
- Another honoree in this year's edition of Who Decides? is North Carolina state Rep. Alma Adams.
Rep. Adams has spent nearly three decades fighting for women and families and, alongside NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina, she helped lead the fight against the now-infamous "motorcycle safety" anti-abortion bill which the anti-choice North Carolina legislature rushed through at the last minute to bypass any opposition from pro-choice elected officials. Alma had this to say about the bill she tried to stop: "It's about politics. It's not about women's health. It's not about safety...As a woman, I am personally insulted by the maneuvers around getting this bill to the floor. We've made a mockery of women's health and safety."
- Our final honoree is California Assemblywoman Toni Atkins.
Asm. Atkins authored the 2013 law that expands access to safe abortion care in the Golden State, which NARAL Pro-Choice California organized around to help pass. This new law will increase the number of medical professionals who can provide early abortion care like midwives and nurses. Now, women in parts of California where there are only a few doctors will have the ability to access abortion care from someone they know and trust.
Check out our latest edition of Who Decides? The Status of Reproductive Choice in the States for more information on choice-related laws in your state and learn about how state legislatures can have a deep impact on women's reproductive freedom.
We celebrated some great pro-choice wins in 2013, in large part because we have strong, pro-choice leaders who fight day in and day out for our rights. Here's our list of notable pro-choice state lawmakers to watch in 2014:
1) Texas gubernatorial candidate and State Sen. Wendy Davis
Wendy Davis gained pro-choice political stardom last summer when she filibustered extreme anti-choice legislation that could shut down almost 90 percent of reproductive-health clinics that provide abortion care across the state of Texas, force women to get an ultrasound before they can have an abortion, and ban abortion after 20 weeks. We know that exciting things await Wendy and her colleague, Texas state Sen. Leticia van de Putte, in 2014. And we look forward to seeing NARAL Pro-Choice Texas and these pro-choice champions make magic this year.
2) Texas State Sen. Leticia van de Putte
During Sen. Davis' filibuster, Leticia raised the roof when she called out her anti-choice colleagues in the Texas state Senate, asking, "At what point must a female senator raise her hand or her voice to be recognized over her male colleagues?" If you haven't seen it yet, the video is pretty incredible. You can hear the literal roar of pro-choice activists who showed up in solidarity with Texas women.
3) Oklahoma State Rep. Doug Cox
Republican state Rep. Doug Cox, a practicing physician, is part of the pro-choice minority in the Oklahoma state legislature. He caught our attention last year when he reprimanded his Republican colleagues for attempting to restrict women's access to birth control under the Affordable Care Act. He got even more vocal in an op-ed, Doug wrote, "What happened to the Republican Party that felt that the government has no business being in an exam room, standing between me and my patient? Where did the party go that felt some decisions in a woman's life should be made not by legislators and government, but rather by the women, her conscience, her doctor and her God?" How will Rep. Cox fight for women in 2014? We can't wait to see.
4) North Carolina State Rep. Alma Adams
Alma has fought for women and families for nearly three decades, and in 2013 she, along with NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina, was a leader in the fight against the "motorcycle safety" bill that politicians used to sneak in a dangerous anti-choice provision. Alma spoke out about the extreme legislation: "It's about politics. It's not about women's health. It's not about safety...As a woman, I am personally insulted by the maneuvers around getting this bill to the floor. We've made a mockery of women's health and safety." We're grateful that Rep. Adams continues to speak out for women's health in North Carolina and we're sure 2014 will be no exception.
5) California State Assemblywoman Toni Atkins
Toni wrote the new law in California to increase the number of medical providers who can provide abortion care in California. You can watch Toni talk about her bill in this video. We, along with NARAL Pro-Choice California, couldn't be more grateful for Asm. Atkins' pro-choice initiative in California. We're excited to see even more from her in 2014.
6) Michigan State Sen. Gretchen Whitmer
In December 2013, the anti-choice Michigan legislature bypassed Gov. Rick Snyder's signature to ban insurance coverage for abortion with no exceptions for rape or incest. While Sen. Gretchen Whitmer bravely spoke out against this extreme legislation that essentially demands women to purchase additional coverage if they need an abortion after a sexual assault, she revealed that she too was a rape survivor. Here's part of her statement: "This tells women that were raped and became pregnant that they should have thought ahead and planned for it. Make no mistake, this is anything but a citizens' initiative. It's a special interest group's perverted dream come true." Abortion coverage may be law, but not to worry, pro-choice politicians in Michigan are already planning their next move in 2014. And we are sure state Sen. Whitmer will be critical to this campaign.
7) Ohio State Sen. Nina Turner
Pro-choice Ohio state Sen. Nina Turner is a loud and proud advocate for reproductive rights. When anti-choice politicians introduced a bill that would ban abortion as early as six weeks - that's before most women even realize they're pregnant - Nina countered those attacks by introducing her own bill. Nina's legislation exposed her colleague's extremism toward women by turning the tables and proposing a tongue-in-cheek requirement that men attend psychological counseling to prove they are fit to get insurance coverage for Viagra and other erectile dysfunction medications. Her legislation would also require doctors to inform male patients about all of the potential risks of Viagra in writing. Oh snap, Nina! We can't wait to watch NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio and Sen. Turner fight for women's reproductive rights in 2014!
We all remember last month when thousands of pro-choice activists flooded the Texas capitol in solidarity with Sen. Wendy Davis to stop an extreme anti-choice bill that would close almost 90 percent of abortion clinics across the state.
I've been to my fair share of rallies, and as an added bonus of standing up for reproductive freedom I've seen some innovative, creative, and sometimes comedic signs.
But when Tuesday Cain's hand-made sign went viral, anti-choice activists went after her, calling the 14-year old "ugly," a "degenerate," and "whore."
Fortunately, the story does not end there. Tuesday stood up to anti-choice bullies and spoke out:
"I don't think [supporting a woman's right to choose] makes me -- or any other 14-year-old girl who agrees with me -- a whore. It simply makes us people. People who believe that abortion should be safe, legal and accessible for women. People who believe women should be in control of their bodies and should not ever have to put their lives at risk so that we don't go backwards in women's rights in this country.
Normally, I prefer to look up to adults as role models. But what is happening in Texas right now it's hard to find adults who I want to look up to. I'm not going to let someone calling me a whore stop me from fighting for what is right for all women. I'm not going to let the bullies win in the fight over women's bodies."
We couldn't agree more.
While it's disgusting to see anti-choice bullies shame young women for supporting women's reproductive freedom, at least the battle for women's health in Texas has cast a spotlight on what anti-choice politicians and their allies are really trying to achieve: taking away a woman's ability to decide whether and when to start a family.
We were deeply disappointed to hear that, despite thousands of pro-choice Texans rallying at the Capitol in opposition to extreme anti-choice legislation, the Texas House of Representatives passed a bill that would close down all but five abortion clinics across the state and ban abortion care after 20 weeks - even in the most heartbreaking of circumstances.
We've seen the anti-choice in politicians Texas stoop to a new low by resorting to cheating tactics and changing the rules to force this dangerous legislation into law. Texas grabbed the nation's attention during Sen. Wendy Davis' 13-hour filibuster and we'd like to share a first-hand account of that experience, from Heather McLeod of Austin, Texas, who stood in the Capitol that night:
"The gallery was full, as was the auditorium where the proceedings were being streamed. Hallways and elevators and stairwells buzzed with activity.
Suddenly an urgent "Shhhhhhhh!" passed from person to person in the group closest to the television. The roar of the bustling room dropped to a hush. This had been the third point of order and the sound was back on. I could feel our collective hearts drop. Sustained. They had killed the filibuster, grasping at absurd straws in an effort to silence Wendy Davis and all of us. I was aware here of the beginning of a certain level of unity--focused, bold, determined--that would come to define the rest of the night. As far as we knew, the filibuster had been broken, which meant the bill would pass, and our reproductive freedom was about to be ripped out from under us.
Crowding onto the terrazzo of the rotunda, surrounded by stately portraits and the soft white glow of the building's interior, our voices began to rise. Louder and louder we grew, until we were chanting as one: "Shame! Shame! Shame! Shame!" The force of passion in the building could have lifted the roof off, not to mention the sheer volume of sound. It grew into one neverending cry of outrage in between chants, until a group of state representatives appeared on the west side of the second floor balcony. I recognized Dawnna Dukes, Senfronia Thomas, and Borris Miles. They were telling us that it wasn't over. The senators were appealing the ruling. They were pleading with us to wait quietly. They motioned dramatically with their hands: "Wait here. We'll be back." It was around this time that we learned that all entrances to the Capitol had been locked due to the crowd's unrest, and no one was allowed in or out. We sat down on the floor of the rotunda. The temperature in the room had started to rise. Food and water were brought in and passed around. We waited, texted, checked social media.
As 11:00 approached, the mood in the room grew tense. We weren't sure what was happening in the gallery. We began counting down. People inside began getting to their feet again until we were all standing.
At 11:42 we began to hear cheering from upstairs and someone appeared at the railing of the highest balcony yelling hoarsely at us to start making noise. Around this same time came the news of Senator Van de Putte's powerful question. Our supporters in the gallery had disrupted the session by standing and cheering and they were refusing to stop.
If we could hear the couple hundred of them shouting, they would certainly be able to hear one or two thousand people in the center of the building. Like a match had been lit, the rotunda exploded in an uprising of sound that swelled above us to a chill-inducing, ear-splitting pitch. "WEN-DY! WEN-DY! WEN-DY!" "WHOSE HOUSE IS IT? OUR HOUSE! WE WON'T GO BACK!" "OUR BODY! OUR CHOICE!" We screamed and clapped and cheered as if our lives depended on it. Our freedom certainly did. The sound seemed to hang in the air above us and feed back, ringing out the power of hundreds and hundreds of voices screaming for equality.
Midnight came and went. Dozens of troopers entered the gallery and began physically removing people while confusion set in downstairs. It appeared a vote had happened, albeit illegally, and that nothing would be settled by night's end. A sizable crowd was gathered outside the Capitol when we left. We witnessed some dramatic arrests being made.
I got home shortly after 2:00 a.m. and learned then that, amazingly, the bill was dead. Dewhurst had ultimately been forced to concede to the objectivity of the clock. Here in Texas we are used to losing these battles, so the next morning dawned with a kind of hope and pride we haven't felt in a long time. But within 24 hours, Rick Perry called another special session. But something has changed in a huge number of us: we are tired, really tired, of being devalued, threatened, and ignored. We will not stand by while our most personal rights are stripped away.
We have woken up."
The Texas Legislature is still in the spotlight after Sen. Wendy Davis' epic stand led the way to a "People's Filibuster," where hundreds of pro-choice Texans rallied at the capitol and ensured that an extreme anti-choice bill did not pass.
But instead of respecting democracy, Gov. Rick Perry and his anti-choice allies in the Texas legislature have resorted to manipulating the rules, cutting off debate, and ignoring the clock so that they could pass extreme anti-choice legislation.
We asked pro-choice Texans across the state to voice their own opinions about Gov. Perry's cheating tactics by writing a Letter to the Editor of their local paper. The Letters to the Editor are the most frequented section of the paper, and we've already seen a few printed!
Here's one Letter to the Editor featured in the Weatherford Democrat:
As children, we're taught that cheating is against the rules, plain and simple. As adults, many of us work to instill this value in children. We want them to play fair, and follow the rules even if it doesn't go their way. As the old adage goes, "Cheaters never win." Gov. Perry, Lt. Gov. Dewhurst and their allies in the legislature must have missed this lesson. And Texas women could pay the price. Perry and Dewhurst have resorted to cheating and deception to push their abortion bill that will hurt the health of many women across the state.
We demand that Gov. Perry and Lt. Gov. Dewhurst stop changing the rules. Cheating is no way to make laws for Texas. If the governor and his allies can't pass a law fairly under the rules, we can't let them cheat their way to victory. Here in Texas, cheaters never win.
Janell Jenkins, Garland, Texas
Anti-choice politicians in Texas and across the country must be held accountable for their unacceptable behavior that could cheat women out of their rights. Would you consider writing to your local paper?