After US Senator Wendy Davis successfully filibustered Senate Bill 5, a law that would have made it near impossible for women in Texas to access abortion services, Governor Rick Perry called a new special session to once again discuss the abortion bill. The special session started on Monday, and thousands of Texans lined up in front of the Capitol to raise their voices either in support or against the bill. Senate Bill 1, as its predecessor SB5, would ban abortions after 20 weeks and tighten regulations on abortion clinics to the point where most abortion providers in the state would have to close down – making it near impossible for women to access abortion services in Texas.
I watched people’s testimonies in front of the Texas Senate Committee on Health and Human Services until the early morning hours of Tuesday. Both sides of the debate vigorously defended their position, posed as either “pro-life” or “pro-choice” (i.e. “pro-abortion, according to the pro-life side).
Many women opposing the bill were visibly emotional, even crying, because of their personal feelings and pure fear towards SB1. The thought of the State legislating what women can and cannot do with their own bodies is horrifying, not to mention a slap across the face for women who have fought for decades to be recognized as equal rights-bearing citizens in front of the Constitution. I have said this before, and I will say it again: NO ONE is pro-abortion. Every single person believes that the primary goal must be to decrease the number of abortions – what we disagree about is how to reach that goal. The underlying cause of abortions is unwanted pregnancies and, until we implement laws and policies to address that issue, abortion rates will not decrease. By severely limiting women’s access to safe abortions, we are doing nothing to the actual demand of abortion services. Women will still need – and get – abortions, but they will be obtaining them in more dangerous ways. As a person testifying in front of the Committee stated:
This bill won’t stop abortions – it will just stop safe abortions.
Sexual and reproductive health is about women’s control and rights over their own bodies and own lives. The most hypocritical thing about the conservative “pro-life” side of this debate is the fact that, while most Republicans – including avid SB5 and SB1 supporter, Governor Rick Perry – claim to support a small government, they think it is perfectly fine for the government to control women’s bodies. As a woman, I strongly believe that the last place the government of any country or state has business being in is my womb or vagina. Decisions about sexual and reproductive issues are the most personal, private decisions of our lives, and those decisions cannot be made by the State. Many “pro-life” arguments are based on religion, but this is why there MUST be separation of church and state. Religious beliefs have no business in politics or law making, because gods do not pass laws – people do. Gods do not bear the consequences of those laws – people do. Religion has no place in politics, and it most certainly has absolutely no place in women’s wombs and bodies.
Whose choice? Our choice! https://t.co/Sk9J3AZHK5
— Nick Hudson (@NickCHudson) July 9, 2013
We are not second class citizens with no voices of our own, and I truly hope both women and men voice their opinions by voting to stop this attack against women once and for all. Taking the right to have an abortion away from women is not only a violation of women’s constitutional rights, but also a violation of their bodily integrity, their privacy and their security. What is happening in Texas is nothing short of a revolution – and despite the outcome of SB1, women, in Texas and across the country, have had enough. Women are more than vessels for pregnancies – we are more than our reproductive organs, and we are more than our ability to procreate. Our value cannot be determined based on our sex, and the decision of abortion cannot be any government’s to make. To quote Devon Howard, a young man with a very powerful testimony against SB1 that also highlighted the needs of the transgender community:
I say this to every male Senator: Either you grow a uterus, or you get your hands off of theirs.
Listen to a powerful poem, “If my Vagina was a Gun,” delivered in front of the Senate Committee as testimony against SB1 by Austin resident Katie Heim.