This post was written by RHAP’s field organizer in Texas, Jenny Horton. She was at the state capital during the July special legislative sessions to vote on a bill that contained sweeping restrictions on abortion access in Texas. Senator Wendy Davis’s filibuster to prevent passing the bill mobilized reproductive health/rights/justice advocates in the state and across the country. Jenny was one of the many who signed up to provide public testimony against the bills and rallied with reproductive health supporters and advocates from all over the state. This piece is a reflection on her time at the capital and the subsequent passing of HB2.
Deep in the heart of Texas, we stood with Wendy. We were ready to go to the Capitol at a moment’s notice! We signed up to testify and waited all night—some of us signed up to testify and were never allowed to speak at all. We saw memes on Facebook and Twitter from pro-life conservatives accusing us of chanting “Hail Satan” in the Capitol, accusing us of being murderers, accusing us of not being “Real Texans.” We gave up our tampons. Medical professionals listened to politicians, politicians with no clinical education, tell them about women’s health. Young men whose grandmothers died in botched back alley abortions weren’t allowed to speak. It made us so angry that we talked to all of our friends and families, until thousands of committed pro-choice progressives were standing with Wendy, marching for our cause, and rallying for what’s right in the oppressive Texas heat.
It’s hard to explain the South to someone that hasn’t lived here. Living in the South is the art of holding complexity—understanding the issues that face us politically but remaining completely enamored with the people that call this place home. It’s difficult for women and men in Texas to mobilize in such a fierce and coordinated away against these attacks on women’s health and to see the legislation pass anyway. It’s hard to hold that complexity when it seems like several people in the state hate you because you know, without a doubt, that women must have access to abortion care.
In spite of these incredible challenges, we continue the fight. We are fighting against mandatory adoption counseling, fetal heartbeat bills, and lack of access for the women living in the Rio Grande valley. We are fighting for our home.
It’s truly a labor of love.