“Shame! Shame! Shame”

9142915842_1e5b56e661Yesterday, near midnight, the Texas Senate passed H.B. 2, the draconian anti-abortion bill that has brought national attention to War on Women state legislatures and made a feminist folk hero of filibustering State Sen. Wendy Davis.

Certain to be signed by Texas Gov. Rick Perry, the bill outlaws abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, requires abortion clinics to meet the same standards as ambulatory surgical centers (even if they only perform medication abortions), require the doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles. The new requirements add to current Texas laws already restricting abortion access, including parental consent, a 24-hour waiting period and a mandatory ultrasound that must be shown and described to the person seeking an abortion. The bill threatens to close 37 out of the 42 abortion clinics in the state of Texas. As Sen Davis pointed out,

This comes after more than 50 women’s health clinics providing cancer screening and family planning services were closed because the Republicans withdrew state-financed support from them.

There was tremendous protest against the bill, both in person and on social media. Anti-abortion supporters also showed up at the State Capitol, wearing blue (those in opposition to the bill wore orange). As The New York Times described it,

Signs and slogans have been everywhere, bearing long, impassioned arguments or the simple scrawl on a young man’s orange shirt, a Twitter-esque ‘@TXLEGE: U R dumb.’

Outside the chamber, the Huffington Post (via AP) reported that

the crowd grew so loud that troopers were being issued orange earplugs. [Pro-choice] protesters were shouting, ‘Shame! Shame! Shame!’ as senators gave their closing statements.

(Was it accidentally symbolic that the troopers plugged their ears with orange–indicated who they did not want to hear?) Police were out in force, and it was reported that they

searched every bag and confiscated anything that could be thrown—including, for part of the day and until the practice became an object of derision online, tampons. Department officials said the searches had turned up jars “suspected to contain” urine, feces and paint, along with glitter and confetti, but offered no proof.

The only upbeat news coming out of this defeat of women’s health care and their rights to control their bodies is that the outrage has invigorated voters throughout the state and the nation. As Heather Busby, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas put it in a press statement,

Texas voters came out in record numbers to oppose this bill every step of the way and they will turn out in record numbers at the next election.

We’ll continue to have coverage of this ongoing story.

Photo of Texas pro-choice protestsfrom Flickr user Ann Harkness under license from Creative Commons 2.0


  1. I smell health industry finances and the insurance lobby responding to large investment stakeholders at the center of this bought and paid-for pseudo act of legislation for public distraction.

  2. I think to label this a war on women doesn’t do us justice. It parodies the reality of what our country is doing to not just women, but to our little daughters and families as a whole. As a woman I am afraid of what the future holds for my daughter. Our rights are being stripped away little by little. Reproductive rights is not just about the right to have an abortion, it is the right to do what is best for our own lives, our bodies, and our own families. What is next? Denying the right for a woman to have a hysterectomy?

  3. In his famous essay “The Subjection Of Women,” John Stuart Mill called for conservative male anti-suffragists to publicly admit the real reason why they were so opposed to women being admitted to colleges and the trades and professions. His exact words in that regard were:

    “The general opinion of men is supposed to be, that the natural vocation of a woman is that of a wife and mother. I say, is supposed to be, because, judging from acts — from the whole of the present constitution of society — one might infer that their opinion was the direct contrary. They might be supposed to think that the alleged natural vocation of women was of all things the most repugnant to their nature; insomuch that if they are free to do anything else — if any other means of living, or occupation of their time and faculties, is open, which has any chance of appearing desirable to them — there will not be enough of them who will be willing to accept the condition said to be natural to them. If this is the real opinion of men in general, it would be well that it should be spoken out. I should like to hear somebody openly enunciating the doctrine (it is already implied in much that is written on the subject) — ‘it is necessary to society that women should marry and produce children. They will not do so unless they are compelled. Therefore it is necessary to compel them.’ ”

    I think anyone who is watching the extremist Republican politicians’ efforts in Texas and other Republican-controlled states to pass legislation that severely restricts women’s access to abortion and contraception might wonder they’re so focused on women’s reproductive choices instead of jobs and other more important issues. I’ve come to my own conclusion; that the real reason for this extremist legislation is to compel women into pregnancy. And like Mr. Mill, I’d love to see them admit this in public, although I am positive they never will. To admit such a handmaids-tale motive might put any Republican politician’s job at risk in 2014, and they aren’t likely to take that chance.

    I also have no doubt whatsoever that they’ll claim any woman who does offer this reason on the public airwaves is a “feminazi,” a “man-hater,” or is somehow “anti-family,” even though such claims will be blatantly false. Conservative Republicans have been very good at misdirection, especially when it comes to the War on Women, and we have to be even better at spotting those efforts and directing the national spotlight back on the motives they would like to keep hidden.

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