Interview: Texan Kicked Out of Abortion Hearing After Calling Anti-Choice Lawmaker an Ophthalmologist


Read all of RH Reality Check‘s coverage of the recent fight for reproductive rights in Texas here.

“This is a farce! The Texas legislature is a bunch of liars who hate women!” Those were some of 28-year-old Sarah Slamen’s final words to the Texas senate’s Health and Human Services Committee Monday night, as four state troopers escorted the furious Houstonian out of a hearing room at 11:15 p.m., just after she called committee chair Sen. Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound) a “fraud.”

Slamen told RH Reality Check that, more than 12 hours into yet another night of testimony on Texas’ omnibus anti-abortion bill, she had had enough of Sen. Nelson’s “good cop” persona.

“By refusing to remain in the context of their debate and their decorum, it was the way to get to them,” Slamen said by phone from Brenham, Texas, where she’s staying with relatives. Slamen described Nelson’s handling of the meeting as “fake smiley Texas nice,” which would allow Nelson to say she’d given opponents of the legislation plenty of time to be heard.

Slamen didn’t buy it, especially in contrast to what she called Rep. Byron Cook’s “bad cop” behavior. Cook (R-Corsicana), chair of the house State Affairs committee, went back on his word last Tuesday to take a surprise midnight vote to push forward HB 2, which would shut down all but five abortion clinics in Texas, and shut down the June 20th “people’s filibuster” after he grew tired of what he called “repetitive” testimony.

Nelson, who joked early in the hearing that her “teacher’s bladder” would help her sit through hour after hour of testimony, commended witnesses on their decorum throughout the night.

“If we all licked their boots all day,” said Slamen, “[Nelson] was going to say, ‘I let every single one of you speak.'”

Slamen said she watched her fellow orange-clad bill opponents, who’d “spoken factually, spoken eloquently, spoken about painful shit, real personal stuff,” be called promiscuous murderers by anti-choice witnesses in blue, while Nelson and the rest of the committee did nothing to stop their accusations.

“They let it go,” said Slamen. “It wasn’t called out once. I was not going to be quiet about it.”

Slamen had intended to address every committee member personally, but only got to (accurately) call Sen. Donna Campbell (R-New Braunfels) an ophthalmologist with no expertise in reproductive medicine before Nelson signaled for the state troopers.

“We can give you all the kids with chlamydia and herpes in their eyes, since we don’t have sex ed in this state,” Slamen told Campbell, before moving on to SB 1’s author, Sen. Glenn Hegar (R-Katy), getting as far as, “You are about as helpful as—” before Nelson’s gavel came down.

Slamen continued talking, this time directly to Nelson: “This is how big of a fraud I knew you were, for being so proud of these proceedings all night. It’s a low bar that you hold yourself to, that you simply allowed us to speak.”

Slamen didn’t stop yelling until troopers brought her into the hallway, where she was greeted by a cheering crowd that walked her all the way out the east doors of the capitol along with her state trooper escort.

“I didn’t curse. I didn’t call anybody a murderer. I didn’t throw my shoe,” said Slamen. She says she was kicked out of the hearing because Nelson and her committee “can’t take a job performance review.”

Watch the incident here:

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  • FatFemPinUp

    righteous.

  • Karen Clark

    I cannot work today because I am so fired up after watching this video! Oh dare anyone eject Sarah from that hearing. She is a citizen and has a right to voice her opinion. And she just exposed the fascism of the Texas legislature.

    • L-dan

      Wow, no kidding. Even speaking in righteous anger, despite being interrupted for no reason at all, she remained clear and concise (as one has to be with only 2 minutes to speak). Refreshing and courageous.

  • bswen

    Fantastic. A Network/Newsroom moment.

  • Anita Morren Jagodzinski

    Watching this, I was cheering for Sarah from my home in Wisconsin! The world needs more women like her, more of us who are NOT afraid to speak up and be heard, women who will NOT stand down. Go, Sarah, go!

    • Mary Winston Provance

      At least our law is on hold for now. Sarah and all those others just rock my socks off. Hero’s I tell you, BIG DAMN HERO’S

    • Daniel Cowden

      Sarah is just another disgusting baby killer.

      • Jennifer Starr

        And you’re just an idiot.

        • Daniel Cowden

          So what does a late term or even mid term baby (or fetus) look like to you? Would it be OK with you to kill him or her?

          • Jennifer Starr

            Well when you get pregnant, Daniel, we’ll let you make the decision about what to do with it, because pregnancy decisions should be made by the person who’s actually pregnant. Not you, not me, and not the government.

          • Daniel Cowden

            How about decisions on who is to live and who is to die? Who shall answer that question? Yes I have a stake in that and you have a say and the government has a roll in defending living human beings. That is the most basic function of government. I fully appreciate your compassion for women and I share that compassion. But we should all have equal compassion for the child or fetus or whatever you choose to call an unborn child with a beating heart and brain function.

          • Jennifer Starr

            Late term abortions are generally wanted pregnancies gone terribly wrong, where there is either a severe fetal anomaly or a threat to the woman’s life or health. She and her doctor get to decide–not you–and certainly not some legislator playing doctor and trying to score brownie points with the fundies. It should be a private medical decision. Not a political one.

          • Valde

            If you had compassion for women you wouldn’t put the fetus first and then claim that both have ‘equal rights’.

            And a beating heart and barely there brain function are meaningless if the fetus is neither sentient nor sapient.

          • Valde

            Late term abortions aren’t for recreation, so you can stop pretending that women have abortions at 30 weeks just because they love getting pregnant and killin’ babies for fun.

          • Daniel Cowden

            That still doesn’t answer the question about the life that is to be terminated. Do you have any feelings at all for the little two pound person? What will you say to that person? Or what will you say for that person since that are too small to speak for themselves?

          • Ella Warnock

            Nobody gets any guarantees in this life. Not even fetuses. And that’s as true today as it was at the beginning of time.

          • Valde

            Isn’t a person.

      • Valde

        And you look like a rapist!!!

        See, I can act like a histrionic fool as well!

        • Daniel Cowden

          She is still a disgusting baby killer!

          • FrogFan

            Well no, she’s not. You are presuming that pro-choice is always pro-abortion; many of us believe in choice but don’t like abortion – we recognize that it’s not our decision! You lose credibility and legitimacy when your argument is reduced to name calling…its what a child does when logic fails.

            And Daniel, I ask you this; if a law against abortion also denies women basic health care which can result in loss of life, is it a good law? A law can be for something that you believe in, but if it’s written poorly, it’s not good, it’s just a bad law.

  • Oak Cliff Townie

    First it helps when the same troopers have been granted a 20 % pay increase by the elected officials hold those hearings…Makes them more agreeable to the Task of tossing the public out of meetings like this .

    That said

    Texas will remain in the dark ages for at least 4 years . Because that is how long it will take for the The duct tape chewing gum and baling wire that are holding this state together to bust loose very soon say 2014 -2015 Election legislative cycle /. No wonder Perry is getting out .
    HEALTH CARE /EDUCATION and Other issues are the only things that have been subjected to GOP SOLUTIONS where the basic idea was although there is nothing wrong LET”S FIX THIS with a Hard swing of the Budget cutting ax .Piles Highway spending debt alone that Mr Perry will leave behind are staggering… I just hope another Closed minded REPUBLICAN gets elected because there is no way I want a Progressive or Democrats in charge to be Blamed when this all hits the fan.

    2016 will be the Year folks will be willing to see the Progressive Message as a good idea .

    • AuntInAZ

      I don’t blame the troopers. They did what they were told to do. They may not have even really wanted to do it.

    • Kathy Gray

      I’m afraid our law enforcement are going with the pay raise and not with the people. Sadly our police all over our nation are becoming the attack dogs of the wealthy elitist special interests.

    • Jenny

      I have to say, while I was protesting at the Capitol, I met an awful lot of state troopers, and they were incredibly kind and patient with everyone. We even had one who was trying to help us get a spot with better visibility for our large pro-choice demonstration when we were being overrun by aggressive people with posters of dead babies. I was incredibly impressed and it was not what I was expecting.

  • Leesa Michael Morgan

    So much for freedom of speech in Texas… She had every right to not only speak her mind, but to not be so rudely interrupted by the faux chairwomen… I listened all day the the Anti-choice people call us women names and blame them for their “behavior”. So you go Sarah, give em hell and just remember that we are behind you 100%!!

    • Guest
  • examplesample

    She should have called them slutty murderers, they seem to like those words flying around, that’s the “decorum” they enjoy, so maybe Nelson wouldn’t have noticed that she was pro-choice lol.

  • OooSillyMe

    So much for freedom of speech….

  • LisaC

    And in a classic illustration of the pro-life media’s journalistic integrity, it is being reported on one anti-abortion “news” site that she was removed for “threatening legislators.”

    • fiona64

      As I’ve said to many an anti-choicer: why let facts get in the way of emotion-laden, dishonest bullshit? It’s just par for the course with those people.

  • Alison Walker

    Sarah Slamen is my hero!! What badass remarks, only to be shut up by the Texas lawmakers who obviously don’t want their cover blown. WOO HOO Sarah. Pro-choice activists, we’re all rooting for you from around the country! – Alison, Arizona.

  • AuntInAZ

    It wouldn’t have mattered if this woman was the most eloquent and brilliant speaker in the history of the world. This was passing no matter what, no matter who, no matter anything. There was never any doubt, the fix was in. She was right, though. And this Texas state legislature can’t have that, can they?

    • Elderlady

      All political theater. It will be struck down in court, just like the one in Wisconsin.
      It’s a waste of time, and money…. Two special sessions……… puleeezzze….???.

      • AuntInAZ

        I agree about the political theater part.

        Our illustrious governor and worthless state legislature pulled that in Arizona a couple of years ago regarding unemployment. She was right to try and solve the issue, but she went into it knowing it probably would not pass, and our GOP lead state senate and house killed the bill. In fact the state senate leader refused to even allow it to come to the floor for a vote. But neither he nor his supporters turned down their per diem pay for the special session. However, the democrats in the state legislature turned in their per diem and did not accept it. The special session was all theater just like this one was. Governor Perry knows it.

  • fratdawgg23

    She kicked them in their tea bags! Right on!

  • Jennifer Starr

    Sarah Slamen is just plain awesome :) We’re there for you, all the way !

  • Elderlady

    Wish we could talk this young woman into staying in Texas. She spoke “Truth to Power” and it took (4) Texas State Troopers to remove her from the room. They never did “shut her up”. Good Job Sarah!

  • stephen maddox

    Our votes will speak with the same pin-point accuracy as Sarah’s words. Thank you Sarah and the countless others like her; we will forward democracy over an oligarchy.

  • Roxanne

    I support Sarah and her message overall but she shouldn’t have said “we’re coming for you”. That is a direct threat and unfortunately provided a nice justification for Nelson to have her hauled out.

    • HeilMary1

      Fetalibaners never get ousted when they scream death threats.

    • DavidPatrick

      Yeah, promising to vote is always a threat to those fascist taliban son of bitch GOPers.

    • CelesteMari

      I said the EXACT same words when I testified and did not get thrown out. “I vote, more importantly I organize. All you legislators planning to vote for this bill, we’ll be coming for you next year”. Its because she was unapologetic and passionate and because she pointed them out by name. They hate that apparently.

  • Linda

    She is awesome. How can I get one of those t shirts?