Texas Women: You Can’t Shut Them Down

Reblogged from Julie Gillis

I don’t entirely know what to say about HB60 and the Texas Filibuster. I headed down to the Capitol early, but got a message that the hearing wouldn’t start until about 5 pm. I was hosting BedPost Confessions, and so I put my energy there, keeping track of what might be needed later in the night or morning.

We had a huge crowd, though I was proud to say I had some messages from long time audience members who went to testify, and I’m so glad they were there.

We had a big political moment mid show and I spoke about the bills, the filibuster and encouraged everyone (even people on the other side who want less abortions–and I mean with BC, sex ed and resources there will be less abortions) to speak. I know of at least 10 people who were able to go down.

We got the show cleaned up and had a meeting and by then it was midnight. Our sitter needed to go. My plan was to get up early and take donuts. It was clear they had about 10 hours worth of testimony and I figured I could act as support.

Then, I saw from my tweets that Rep Byron Cook was planning on shutting down testimony because “it was getting repetitive.” This caused a woman testifying to protest to the rooftops, getting her taken from the podium, which caused shouting and protesting and Representative Byron Cook-R Corsicana-huffed off for not being respected.

Which is amazing and outrageous. Hundreds of women and men asking for their due process to speak, having followed the rules of order, signed up. They would have been talking for hours and hours more, but no. Cook (who I suspect may well find himself facing a fierce competitor next election) shut it down.

People came from hundreds of miles away. People stood and waiting for hours and hours. And it was just so repetitive to Representative Cook that he needed to stop.

Representative Jessica Farrar-D Houston was amazing. A rock star. Houston is so lucky to have her.

I sat up with my phone watching the tweets come in. Here are some storify pieces and I’ll add more as I find them.

Here’s a great piece from Writes Like A Girl on her night there.

Here is a piece from RH Reality Check on what went down and also a good brief from the Chronicle. Here is another RH Reality piece from Austin’s Andrea Grimes. A piece from Texas Democrats.

Lots of power in these women and men. Lots of push to get the government out of the business of regulating lady parts, sexual activity, love. So strange to see the opposition claim that abortion rights and birth control mean the government is regulating your body. Like some kind of inside out mirror world where choice means control OVER you, instead of control that you yourself have. So much projection, yeah?

Meanwhile, more and more poverty, more and more slash and burn on fair pay (Our Governor Good Hair just vetoed that bill last week), less protections for workers and more for corporations who will keep people reliant on them all while funding political candidate that sell fear and old time religion…yeah, I’m seeing a trend. Permanent poverty class means a steady stream of desperate workers.

There is a hearing on Sunday and we will be in force. Here would have been my testimony had I been able to be at the hearing before it was closed:

“Hi, my name is Julie Gillis and I am an Austin resident and a Texas Native, I’m protesting the abortion ban bill.

My mother was born in 1928, and her childhood was marked by the Great Depression, WW2 and FDR’s policies that helped America come back from economic devastation. She witnessed first hand the horrors of poverty and humiliations of families desperate for work, food, and shelter and she also saw what can be done when a nation finds ways to put people to work, support veterans for their service (with education, with homes, with health care). She voted Democrat because as she said, when Republicans were in office, the rich got richer and the poor got poorer. She grew up into an America that still is considered a bit of a Golden Age.

She also witnessed massive social change in the 60’s and 70’s both with integration and gay rights, social justice movements she was adamantly for, but also The Pill. Prior to the pill people did indeed have sex. Lots of it, to hear her tell it. Back then, unmarried women couldn’t get the pill on their own, and even married women had to get clearance from the husband so the doctor would prescribe it.

Before that, condoms were pretty much the only way to have sex safely, if you could get them. But people had sex, because sex is fun. Everyone pretended not to, and hoped not to get caught, but sex was had.

She was overjoyed at the pill. She was overjoyed that women were given the right to privacy and abortion, not because she wanted one, but because she recognized that women’s bodies belonged to them, and access to reproductive services meant freedom.

She’s had dementia, Alzheimer’s the last 10 years and so she’s been somewhat shielded from the backlash on women, economic stability, unions. She’d have been horrified to see the chipping away at Planned Parenthood, sex education in the schools and the influence of the religious right on reproductive rights. She’d also have tied that chipping away directly to the desire to have a permanent poverty class, a kind of economic slavery class, something so abhorrent to her as she had parents and grandparents who witnessed the mills and child labor at the behest of Robber Barons. We are seeing more and more of that today. She’d have been ashamed of our elected officials for allowing this to happen. Hell for encouraging it.

She would have said that people who are poor and kept from education wind up being desperate. They take bad jobs because that’s all there is, they find themselves trapped in marriages or pregnancies, people of color wind up suffering more than middle class whites and the poverty class keeps itself locked in because there aren’t policies in place to help.

That being said, she like me, would probably want to see abortion rates drop. Abstinence only doesn’t work, because we’ve got eleventy billion people on the planet. People like sex. Can’t stop, won’t stop, so let’s make sure the pregnancies don’t get started.

Sex is a good thing. It’s such a good thing that I help produce a story telling series, BedPost Confessions, about it. It’s an awesome gathering of talented writers and performers who share vulnerable, smart, funny, risky stories about the human condition and sexuality. It helps people and I won’t stop helping people find their way to health and wholeness.

If you want to reduce abortions, take my advice and follow these three steps:

1) Teach everyone about how their bodies work. Sex education is a human right so far as I’m concerned. We need to know how to eat? To sleep? To stay well? We need to know how our parts work. Comprehensive age appropriate sex ed is a moral issues. It is immoral to deny people understanding of their bodies. Making sex ok means better decisions, less impulsive guilt based hookups and healthier relationships. Adults need support as well as our youth.

Education is power, don’t deny people education.

2) Offer many varieties of easily accessible, low cost birth control options. Offer them to teens, to health centers, to adults, at bars. Research more methods for men to control their fertility, more options for couples to work together. Don’t chip away at Planned Parenthood, make sure there are more!

Access is power, don’t deny people access.

3) Here’s the most radical idea and one I’m sure our Republican friends won’t like. Make sure a social safety net is in place filled with unions, worker’s rights, fair wages, fair and ethical bank practices, health services, state funded day care services, insurance and more so that those finding themselves with unexpected or intended pregnancies who want to proceed with the pregnancy have resources and safety.

Resources are power, don’t deny people resources.

I fully expect all of those points to be refused and rebutted with anti choice tropes about loving babies and loving women, but I think that’s a lie. It’s a lie to call what’s been going on love. It’s a strange kind of love anyway.

A strange love to refuse to teach people about sex and put myths of purity on young girls.

A strange love to force women to keep babies inside them that are wanted but dying and causing trauma for the mother.

A strange love to ask rape victims to have a vaginal probe inserted inside them against their will.

That’s not love. That’s sickness. But then, it’s not about love is it. It’s about economics and a perpetual poverty class and about keeping power from those that have the right to it.

My mother was so wise and observant. I’m relieved she passed from this earthly plane before she could see what’s going on in the state she loved so much. She’d be ashamed of what’s happening and she’d call for all of us to fight and stand up for education, access, resources.

Moral, ethical, liberal values, all of them.

Do the right thing for Texas women. We won’t back down.”