The past few weeks have been hectic if you are a supporter (or denier, for that matter) of women’s rights. Anti-abortion, anti-woman legislation has taken over my home state of Texas, resulting in scathing national coverage of the legislature's efforts to close clinics and put up roadblocks for women seeking safe, legal abortion services -- the very thing guaranteed to them by the Supreme Court way back in 1973.
Just yesterday, North Carolina legislators stole a page from the Texas Legislature's playbook by unexpectedly unveiling a bill in the middle of the night that places excessive restrictions on abortions. The language of the bill is almost identical to current proposed legislation in Texas.
How is any of this good news, you ask? I'll tell you -- the good news is that this avalanche of anti-woman legislation has awakened a sleeping dragon. It has infuriated, angered and motivated thousands of women in Texas alone to get up, show up, and make their voices heard. Monday's pro-choice rally at the Texas capital had a turnout of over 5,000 people and drew a healthy dose of national attention.
This rally, along with the original "citizen's filibuster" and subsequent mayhem in the Texas Senate was organized almost exclusively via Twitter. I've had a Twitter account since I started writing at xoJane, but never really understod it's full potential until the story of the Texas Legislature's sneakiness in trying to push through horrific anti-choice legislation began to break on Thursday, June 20. Citizens armed with smartphones and Twitter accounts single handedly drew national attention to what was happening right under our noses. It was awesome to watch happen in real time.
Communication+information+activism is what motivates real, lasting change. Entire generations of women (and men) are now awake, aware, and mobilized. Even women 65 and older who remember a time before legal access to abortion are enraged at the idea that we could even consider setting women's rights back in such a pointed, dramatic fashion.
And the cause in Texas has not gone unnoticed outside of Texas. The national spotlight on Senator Wendy Davis, (D-Ft. Worth) could not be shining brighter right now. Since her 11+ hour filibuster in the Texas Senate on June 25th, she has made the rounds of practically every major, national talk show and morning news program. All eyes are on Texas right now -- and not for the reason senate Republicans would prefer.
An interesting side story regarding the fight in Texas is the fact that Republicans at the national level have been suspiciously silent regarding Perry's proposed anti-choice legislation. (Even they know he's a moron who hurts the party.)
Of course, there is also overwhelming bad news: the legislation in Texas WILL, WITHOUT A DOUBT, PASS sometime in the next 30 days. It takes effect almost immediately, but even the bill's lamebrain sponsor, Rep. Jodie Laubenberg, admits it will most likely "be litigated and could go up to the Supreme Court." You remember Rep. Laubenberg, right?
Oh, hellfire. This woman again. But if you ask me, there could not be a better idiot to be carrying a burning torch against women's rights. She opens her mouth and PR flaks across the country facepalm in unison. Her stupidity is out in the open for all to see, consider, and remember when they next hit the polls to VOTE.
The population of Texas (as of 2012) is 50.3% female. This is not a silent minority group -- this is a force to be reckoned with. I think a lot of women who don't vote never even considered for one minute that their legal right to safe abortion services, afforded to them since 1973, could ever possibly be taken away. They aren't so sure now, so they are speaking out and making sure women come out to vote in droves when gubernatorial elections roll around in Texas next year. From Politico.com:
"Jeremy Bird, the former national field director for President Obama’s reelection campaign who now runs Battleground Texas, a group that’s trying to make Democrats more competitive in the state, says the abortion showdown inspired about 500 volunteers to knock on doors registering voters this weekend.
“Most people don’t just wake up one day and say, ‘I want to register voters in the 100-degree heat,” Bird told POLITICO."
That's action. That's activism. That's how change happens. Voting is the magic bullet. And all those millennials we love to poke fun at for their ennui and their "participation trophies"? By the time to 2020 election rolls around, they will make up a solid 40% of the electorate. They will have the ability to transform America and sway elections. That's a power for change that the world hasn't seen since the 1960s.
If you are wondering how you can help the women of Texas who are making a stand for their reproductive rights, check out the following resources for information, volunteer and activism opportunities, and ways your dollars can help the cause:
- The Lilith Fund (assists Texas women in exercising their fundamental right to abortion by removing barriers to access.)
- Jessica Luther (grass-roots activist on the ground in Austin, Texas. Tons of info on current status of attempted legislation, volunteer opportunities and events.)
- Battleground Texas(aimed at increasing voter registration and re-engaging voters who have become disillusioned. If you haven't already done so, REGISTER TO VOTE!)
- Stand With Texas Women (an arm of Planned Parenthood taking aim at the Texas Legislature.)
But perhaps the very best piece of advice I've seen as to how to help and make change happen costs nothing but your time and comes from @KitOConnell, an activist in Texas. Kit says, quite simply and beautifully:
"Want to help Texas women? Educate and recruit 5 of your friends to the struggle."
That's the real backbone of the whole cause. And it works wherever you happen to live. It's a testament to the power of the people. That's activism that can spur real change. Voting out local, state and national politicians who hate women and want to take us back to the early 1900's is the only answer. The furor in Texas has reminded the entire nation: We are women. We are watching you. We are legion, and we will be heard. Ignore us at your own peril, lawmakers.
Be sure to harass me on Twitter for my opinions, especially if we went to high school together:@IveyAlison