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Nine years ago, former U.S. Sen. Wendy Davis stood on the floor of the Texas Senate in pink sneakers for 13 consecutive hours, trying to block a bill that would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy and close most state clinics.
At the time, she and other reproductive rights advocates in the legislature thought that these Republican efforts in Texas to restrict access to abortion would be “as bad as it could be.” They were inspired by their confidence that they had the laws of their country: Roe v. Wade, which establishes a constitutional right to abortion.
And although the legislature eventually passed the law it was protesting against, the US Supreme Court would later overturn it, reaffirming the legal right of the procedure.
But the unthinkable happened on Friday. Davis, who has pledged her political career to fight for reproductive rights, was devastated by the news that the nation’s highest court had overturned Rowe against Wade.
“It can’t be calculated what that damage will be,” Davis said.
Elsewhere in Texas, U.S. Attorney Donna Howard was mired in such grief.
“I’m absolutely shocked right now,” Howard said. “I don’t think we even have any idea how devastating this is going to be.”
The two women are among the most zealous defenders of abortion rights coming out of the legislature in recent years. In separate interviews with The Texas Tribune on Friday, they expressed grief and outrage at the Supreme Court’s decision to allow states to ban abortions, adding even greater obstacles to what was already a tough battle to protect reproductive rights in a controlled a state of conservatives. They also said they were worried that this was just the beginning of a long-running Republican movement to remove even greater protection of reproductive health, such as contraception.
At the same time, they said Texans should try to hope and that the government should light a fire under the people who will fight for change.
Friday’s ruling was expected – a draft court opinion expired last month – but Davis and Howard said that did not make the ruling any less appalling. Texas has a trigger law, which means that Roe’s repeal of Wade will automatically make abortion illegal in Texas, with no exceptions for rape or incest. The law comes into force 30 days after the Supreme Court’s decision, which usually comes about a month after the initial opinion is issued.
However, clinics in Texas said Friday they were suspending abortion services immediately.
Davis gained national fame after the filibuster in 2013 and has since become a leading voice for access to abortion in a country that is at the forefront of efforts to restrict abortion rights. She ran for governor in 2014, but lost heavily to Gov. Greg Abbott. She filed a federal lawsuit in April in response to last year’s Texas Abortion Act – which effectively banned abortion as early as six weeks after pregnancy – claiming the law was “clearly unconstitutional” and was written “to mock federal courts.” . ”
The question is personal to Davis, who terminated two pregnancies in the 1990s. One was an ectopic pregnancy, and in the other, doctors found a fetal brain abnormality.
“I exercised my choice to terminate this pregnancy by making a decision that was deeply personal, extremely difficult and born of love,” Davis said. “I am so sad, regardless of the circumstances, for the women who will not be able to make that decision.
Howard has been a state representative since 2006. She is a registered nurse and chair of women’s health care at Texas House. She also voiced her opposition to last year’s abortion law and testified before the U.S. Senate Judicial Commission last year about the consequences.
Howard’s mission to protect reproductive rights was inspired in part by her daughter. In 2015, her daughter’s doctor discovered that the fetus did not have a heart rhythm 11 weeks after her pregnancy, according to a Texas Observer report. The doctor recommended a procedure to remove the tissue from the inside of the uterus. Prior to the procedure, Howard’s daughter learned that Seton Medical Center in Austin required that all the remains of the fetus be buried after a miscarriage.
The experiment helped nurture Howard’s legislative impetus not to force patients who have had miscarriages to agree to fetal funerals. In 2017, despite Howard’s efforts, the state legislature passed a bill to oblige the burial or cremation of the fetus to respect the lives of the unborn. A year later, a judge overturned the law.
“[Abortion] “It’s something we all have in common,” Howard said. “The way the laws are written to ban abortions is done in such a way that they have not taken into account the impact on the lives of so many of us, the damage that has been done, the injury that has been inflicted on us.
Friday’s Supreme Court ruling was the culmination of decades of a relentless campaign by abortion advocates to repeal Rowe against Wade, Davis and Howard said. The inevitability of the decision crystallized after former President Donald Trump appointed three judges to the Supreme Court, giving the Conservatives a 6-3 majority.
“The courts have been able to support legislation and anti-abortion efforts over the years,” Howard said. “The courts have, in fact, turned their backs on the majority of Americans who support access to abortion.
The two Texans warned that the fight to restrict reproductive rights is far from over. After the court’s draft expired in May, some Republicans in the state said they wanted to target companies that said they would help employees trying to have abortions outside of Texas.
In addition, they are concerned about efforts to limit the care of contraceptives, pills in the morning after and in vitro fertilization. Davis pointed to the platform that the Republican Party of Texas voted on last week – a non-binding list of priorities – according to which life begins with fertilization.
“And if that’s the case, then we’re talking about the complete revocation of any of those other rights,” Davis said.
Supreme Court Judge Clarence Thomas wrote in a concerted opinion Friday that the court should reconsider decisions protecting contraceptive rights, same-sex relationships and same-sex marriage.
Davis and Howard also stressed that abortion will not disappear after the decision – its illegality simply forces people to resort to more dangerous methods of abortion. And people facing these risks are often of lower socio-economic status, unable to afford to travel to another country where the procedure is legal.
“It has always been difficult for women with limited resources to access the health care they need, including abortion health care. It’s only going to get worse now, “Howard said. “Those who will be missed are those who are likely to be in the worst situation.
Howard called on Congress to codify abortion rights in law. This is very unlikely, given that the measure will require 60 votes in the US Senate. Republicans in Congress on Friday proposed a federal law banning abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
Howard also said the state legislature should add exceptions to rape and incest to its trigger law. The law has exceptions only to save the life of the pregnant woman or if they risk “significant damage to basic bodily functions”.
“Which means we have to wait until she dies,” Howard said.
Howard also called on Republicans to increase access to maternity services.
“If they claim to support life and it’s in place to bring more life into Texas homes, then let’s make sure we give them a safety net to have the healthiest possible pregnancy and birth and babies,” he said. Howard.
They also stressed the importance of voting. State government elections will only become more important, Howard said, as government officials will now decide whether to allow abortions in their states.
Davis also called for attention to competition across the state.
“Our governor and vice-governor and [attorney general] racing has become even more important, ”said Davis. “I hope so [voters will] decided that this was a time when we should all stand together and show our irritation in front of the ballot box. “
People also need to lean in and empower each other, Davis and Howard said.
They said they understood that millions of women did not feel particularly hopeful at the moment. But they said people should hope for every hope they can find to help people access abortion.
“There is no alternative but to hope,” Davis said. “We cannot accept this reality. And the result for our daughters and granddaughters is too important for us to give up. “
“It took 50 years to turn around [Roe v. Wade]. And it will take us hopefully not 50 years to recover, “Howard added. “There’s hope. We just have to go out and do it.”
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Wendy Davis and Donna Howard, proponents of access to abortion, worry that the worst is yet to come after Rowe’s decision.
Source link Wendy Davis and Donna Howard, proponents of access to abortion, worry that the worst is yet to come after Rowe’s decision.