If you’ve been following the events of the past 2 weeks in the Texas Legislature, you may be mad as hell at what went down. You can read my recap of what happened here, but I’ll go ahead and provide a Cliff’s Notes version of events for those of you who are too lazy to have a look.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry tasked the Texas Legislature with restricting access to abortions, and they didn't disappoint him with Senate Bill 5, a bill that would impose some of the strictest abortion regulation in the country and would effectively close all but 5 clinics in the state of Texas. The republican controlled senate had the votes to pass the bill, but the senate democrats banded together and stalled the vote until 11:45 pm via a 10+hour filibuster by Sen. Wendy Davis and by raising a ton of procedural points.
Some serious banana-republic style hi-jinks by senate leaders enraged the 2,000 spectators in the senate gallery and rotunda to unleash hell, screaming, cheering, stomping their feet as the clock ran out on the day and no vote could be taken. I urge you to read my recap -- it was spine tingling and utterly maniacal.
And then, not 12 hours later, Gov. Perry announced he’d arrogantly called lawmakers back to the house and senate to push his anti-woman agenda through by any means necessary. This time, the measures are almost certain to pass. Perry has stated in the past that his end goal is to outlaw access to ALL ABORTIONS. If you aren't shivering in fear of this man, you should check your pulse. But you (and I) are totally at fault for him even being here in the first place -- because we don’t get out and vote.
Texas has the horrible dishonor of being the state with the worst voter turnout in the country. The rest of the country isn’t much better! Just this past May, only 15% of registered Los Angeles voters turned out to vote in our mayoral election. (I wasn’t even aware it was happening, and I dislike our current mayor viciously.) Citizens pay even less attention to the electing of their state representatives--the very folks who are currently working overtime to strip Texas women of their right to choose.
Those of you who live in California and New York may be feeling pretty smug right about now. Texas is a backwards wasteland -- and this could never happen here, right? As Andrea Grimes of RHrealitycheck.com puts it, this is a dangerous, flawed, and foolish thought:
”Texas is not a throw-away state full of throw-away people who can be shrugged off with a contemptuous, “Well, what do you expect?” Texas is not an outlier. Texas is a test case for right-wingers with their eyes on the coasts and, as Congress showed this week, Washington, D.C.”
6 states have recently introduced stringent restrictions on abortions, and ELEVEN other states have considered the same. Still think it can't happen where you live?
I remember the very first election I actually paid attention to as a Texas teen--Democrat Ann Richards vs. Republican Clayton Williams in 1990. At one point in his campaign, Williams likened a woman getting raped to experiencing bad weather: "If it's inevitable, just relax and enjoy it".
--Clayton Williams, speaking from his West Texas ranch.
From then on, it was Texas women against Williams, and Ann Richards served as our governor for the next 4 years. GAME. SET. MATCH.
That was the absolute power of women, voting in droves, using their voices to say that they wouldn't stand for being marginalized or condecended to any longer. Williams really did the work for Richards with his remarks, and Rick Perry is currently doing this same favor for Wendy Davis:
"In fact, even the woman who filibustered the Senate the other day was born into difficult circumstances. She was the daughter of a single woman, she was a teenage mother herself. She managed to eventually graduate from Harvard Law School and serve in the Texas senate. It is just unfortunate that she hasn’t learned from her own example that every life must be given a chance to realize its full potential and that every life matters."
--Rick Perry, speaking at National RIght to Life conference in Dallas, Texas.
The only hope we have to protect our reproductive rights from being yanked way by a bunch of thugs in Texas (and across the country) is to get out of our seats and VOTE. Research what your local and state reps are doing and saying when they represent you. Make them work for their cheddar, and be sure you agree with the bulk of what they believe in.
There are all kinds of reasons for not voting. Here are some I myself have used: "Oh, it doesn't matter anyway. Nothing changes. Ugh, I don't want to wait in line to vote. I don't even know where my polling place is! I am so sick of all these campaign ads, who cares."
These are the dumb words of a selfish blonde dilettante.
If you are in Texas, here is the link to online voter registration. Most states have the same procedure. Registering early means you can take advantage of absentee voting and still do your civic duty without even leaving your house. Change, for better or for worse, happens at the state level.
We cannot go back in time to the coat hanger days -- not in Texas or anywhere else. This is a serious crisis, and a defining moment for women across the country.
There is only one cure, and that is for women to vote in droves. It's no longer cute to be uninvolved. It's gross and unethical. When women start suffering and dying due to lack of reproductive care, the blood will be on our hands if we didn't vote in the change we wish to see.
Women in Texas specifically will almost immediately cross the border into Mexico for illegal, unsafe abortion services once clinics in their communities close. What's happening in Texas will not stay in Texas. It will eventually, chillingly, come right to your doorstep. Get mad. Stay angry. VOTE.
EDIT: Commenter Dusty, (@ilikeswears) points out that Battleground Texas is doing some excellent work to educate and register women and minority voters. These are the two groups that would blow the whole thing wide open, were they to vote in droves. Consider getting involved and check them out here.
I'm on Twitter: @IveyAlison