Speaking at the Texas Solidarity Rally in Belfast
Shared during the Solidarity for Texas Rally, 2 October
I lived in Texas for 7 years. I went to primary school in Richardson Texas. I lived a suburban life, swimming with friends in our pool, walking to school, taking piano lessons. Who in my community needed an abortion during those years? I do not know, but I do know that my teachers, my friend’s parents, and people in my church community all included individuals who either got an abortion or loved someone who did. Today I stand in solidarity with my community in Texas, fighting for safe, affordable and accessible abortion services.
It was not until I moved to New York City where I went to college that I had my abortion. Access to this health care changed my life. I have friends who have had abortions. I have a friend who provides abortions. My friend Amy Littlefield, a journalist for the Nation, wrote about the hours immediately following Texas Senate Bill 8 where abortion clinics are now forced to turn away near 80% of patients. Reporting about the Whole Woman’s Health clinic in Fort Worth she writes:
On Wednesday, when the ban took effect, there were 77 people on the schedule at that clinic alone, none of whom would be able to have abortions in Texas if their pregnancies had detectable cardiac activity.
The Frontera Fund, which helps people in the Rio Grande Valley, a stretch of southernmost Texas almost the size of Connecticut, shut down temporarily in an effort to comply with the law. Executive Director Zaena Zamora said the fund has seen a drop in calls to their help line since last week, because appointments in Texas were no longer available. Those who chose to travel would have to make their way nine hours to Louisiana, a state with its own extensive abortion restrictions where a hurricane cut off power to over a million people and where it was unclear which clinics were still operating, or 12 hours to New Mexico. Zamora said her fund had been working with a caller who was likely past the six-week mark but could not get an appointment in Texas until September 2 [the following day]. Because of her job and family obligations, she was unable to travel out of state. Zamora isn’t sure what happened to her.
For undocumented patients who live in the valley, meanwhile, traveling out of Texas is an unsafe option because of Border Patrol checkpoints 100 miles north of the border.
Littlefield's reporting continues to follow how this near total ban is impacting people in Texas.
As a volunteer clinic escort for Planned Parenthood in Massachusetts and Rhode Island I supported strangers on their way to get abortions. I continue to support the work of organizations finding ways to help those who need access to abortion but are unable to afford it because of the increasing restrictions on access to care in the United States from measures like Trap Laws (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers) which require clinics to pass unreasonable standards that result in the closing of clinics to the Hyde Amendment which continues to limit federal Medicaid funding from abortion services.
In 2019 I spoke at the Rhode Island state house insisting that legislators must act to resist this nation-wide move to make abortion more difficult to access. With what is now essentially a complete ban on abortion for 80% of those seeking them in Texas we say how far these regulations can reach. This is very personal to me - under the current regulations in Texas, I would not have been able to access my abortion.
As a lesbian I recognize abortion as a part of basic reproductive health care which is important to members of my LGBTQ community as well. I am grateful for the intersectional work of Alliance for Choice to relentless fight for access to abortion as part of basic health care, as part of reproductive justice. There is no question about it: people always find a way to have an abortion, regardless of whether or not their government does the right thing to make sure they are safe, affordable and accessible.
A decision not to protect abortion access directly and proudly is a decision to deny people the care they need. This issue is not one which anyone can be neutral about – abortion is normal. Everybody loves someone who has had an abortion.
From Belfast, NI to Beaumont, Texas – we are with you!
Photo Credit: Dr. Viviane Gravey
Other speakers at the Texas Solidarity Rally include Was fantastic to share the stage with speakers Elizabeth Nelson, Kendell Bousquet and Danielle Roberts who read the Alliance for Choice solidarity letter to Texas which you can find here.