July 18, 2013
Just hours after a massive anti-abortion bill was signed into law by Republican Texas Gov. Rick Perry, new legislation was introduced to restrict safe abortion access in the state even further. On Thursday, Rep. Phil King (R-Weatherford) introduced HB 59, a “prohibition on abortion after detection of a fetal heartbeat.” The bill would ban abortions even earlier in gestation than HB 2, negating one aspect of the newly-signed law, which as of September will ban abortions after 20 weeks (if it is not tied up in litigation by then). But a limited period for debate in the special session, as well as a history of heartbeat laws not being implemented, leaves the future of the proposed bill in doubt.
Although the text of HB 59 has not been released, similar heartbeat bans have popped up in other states in the last few years, all designed to ban abortion at the point when an embryonic heartbeat can be detected. In some cases, that could be as early as six weeks’ gestation (or four weeks after conception), which is before many people are even aware they are pregnant.
An Arkansas heartbeat bill that would have banned abortion after 12 weeks was blocked by the courts as unconstitutional. A North Dakota heartbeat bill that would ban abortions even sooner has not yet gone into effect, but reproductive rights advocates sued to have it enjoined as well.
The Texas legislature is on break until July 25. It is unclear if the new bill will be heard in this session, which is the second special session of this legislative year.
Women are socialized to be quiet. We are socialized not to be political and to keep our opinions to ourselves. We are socialized to ask for things — to wait for things.
I and some other activists had even been talking that day about organizations insisting that demonstrators could not in any way be aggressive, that someone in an orange shirt [a symbol of being part of the reproductive rights contingent at the Capitol] doing something like that could ruin the whole thing.
That’s ridiculous. It’s civil disobedience and it’s civil disobedience for a reason.
Texas is a beautiful place. A diverse place. A place I’ll love for the rest of my life — but it’s an oppressive place. People, I think, with the ability and privilege to wait on the next election can say, “We’ll just keep quiet and wait.” But I think that we can’t wait. We have to stop them. […] What’s it going to take? Women dying like they did before Roe vs. Wade?
Texas activist Sarah Slamen on the passing of one of the country’s strictest abortion bills that bans abortions after 20 weeks.
Right before launching her testimony of the Texas legislative process, calling it “a farce,” Slamen was dragged out by Texas state troopers and escorted out of the Capitol. You can watch her speech here.
In fact, even the woman who filibustered the Senate the other day was born into difficult circumstances. She was the daughter of as 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 on State Senator Wendy Davis
March 22, 2013
North Dakota lawmakers voted on Friday afternoon to pass a “personhood” abortion ban, which would endow fertilized eggs with all the rights of U.S. citizens and effectively outlaw abortion. The measure, which passed the Senate last month, passed the House by a 57-35 vote and will now head to Republican Gov. Jack Dalrymple’s desk.
The personhood ban will have far-reaching consequences even beyond abortion care, since it will charge doctors who damage embryos with criminal negligence. Doctors in the state say it will also prevent them from performing in vitro fertilization, and some medical professionals have vowed to leave the state if it is signed into law.
The measure is so extreme that some pro-life Republicans in the state have come out against it, planning to join a pro-choice rally in the state capital on Monday to oppose the far-right abortion restriction. “We have stepped over the line,” Republican state Rep. Kathy Hawken (R-Fargo) said of the recent push to pass personhood. “North Dakota hasn’t even passed a primary seatbelt law, but we have the most invasive attack on women’s health anywhere.”
Personhood advocates have pushed their agenda in states throughout the country over the past several years, but their measures have so far been unable to advance. North Dakota is the first state to pass a personhood abortion ban.