Last night, I attended the Texas House State Affairs Committee’s hearing of HB16 and HB60. HB 16 bans abortion at 20 weeks with few exemptions. House Bill 60 requires abortion providers to have admitting privileges to a hospital within 30 miles of the clinic, revokes their ability to prescribe the abortion pill remotely, and forces clinics to become ambulatory surgical care centers.
This particular bill could potentially shutter all but 5 of the abortion clinics in Texas and leave women in West Texas, the Rio Grande Valley, and the Panhandle hours away from services. Complicating things is the state’s law that requires women to receive a sonogram and then wait 24 hours before having the procedure.
These are two bills that put Texas women at huge risk– the risk that they will be left with DIY abortions as their only option. Hundreds of Texans – women and men – turned out yesterday to testify against these bills and in defense of female citizens. A supposed system glitch meant that volunteers were called to speak in alphabetical order, meaning that many who had been at the Capitol for even 15 hours were not to be heard. What’s more, committee chairman Rep. Byron Cook called our personal testimonies against HB16 “repetitive” and ended the hearing at about 1:30am after having completely left the room earlier in the evening saying he felt disrespected. People continued to testify against HB60 until 3:40am when Rep. Cook ended that hearing as well, with three girls still in line waiting to speak as they had been for the previous 15 hours.
It was a rough night, with hundreds of women and men not being allowed to voice their dissent against these two bills that can only serve to harm women. State Troopers were called in, women were escorted out, cameras were confiscated, voices were raised, tears were shed. I’m so proud of everyone who came out in support of women, our rights, and our bodies.
Here are a few of my favourite quotes from last night. Of course, there are errors and it’s a shame that I couldn’t type fast enough on my iPhone to get quotes right every time or to include everyone’s name. Please, if you’re quoted or you know someone who is, email me so I can credit you! And take a look at our Twitter feed from last night to see even more incredible words coming from incredible people.
The fight isn’t over and I hope to see you all out at the Capitol again come Sunday afternoon!
–By Hillary-Anne Crosby, Vagina Editor-In-Chief