Crass and unreasonable abortion bill SB5 failed to pass with the valiant efforts of Senator Wendy Davis at the Capitol on Tuesday night. Davis, clad in pink tennis shoes, took the floor for an epic 13 hour filibuster in which she could not sit, lean, or take a break of any sort under Texas parliamentary rule.
SB5 is an anti-choice bill that severely limits women’s access to abortions and outlaws them completely after 20 weeks with no explicit exceptions for rape or incest. It also requires for these clinics to be within 30 miles of a hospital for admittance, if needed, and be licensed ambulatory surgery centers. If passed, SB5 would close 80% of abortion clinics making the procedure less accessible.
Texas already has extensive regulations for abortion clinics. In 2011 HB15 was passed, requiring a woman to have a sonogram at least 24 hours before the procedure and requires the physician to provide abortion alternatives. A 2/3 cut in family planning funds caused many family planning facilities to close their doors. Planned Parenthood took care of over 44% of women’s healthcare needs under medicare until the state of Texas decided to deny federal funds to any organization offering abortions. This forced many women to find new healthcare providers and left many without accessible or affordable options for treatment of STDs, cancer screenings, breast exams, pregnancy tests, contraception, birth control, or prenatal care. Texas implemented the Texas Women’s Healthcare Program to offer the same services as Planned Parenthood but flopped with the delivery and availability of physicians.
Texas has made having an abortion increasingly difficult. Most women can barely afford to take one day off of work. Thanks to the sonogram bill, women must now take at least two and pay the clinic for administering the sonogram. By financially disconnecting organizations that offer abortions, women are denied all the other family planning services they provide.
“The ideal world is a world without abortion,” Texas Governor Rick Perry said, “Until then, however, we will continue to pass laws to ensure abortions are as rare as possible under existing law.”In the filibuster Tuesday night, Wendy Davis described the bill as a “raw abuse of power,” It is not Rick Perry’s choice if a woman decides to have a child. No matter how many special sessions he decides to have. Let’s just keeping reminding them who’s choice it is!