As Out-Of-State Gawkers Look On, Texas Lawmakers Prepare to Pass ‘Death Sentence’ Anti-Abortion Bill

I want to talk about two people.

The first person is a young guy I met in line Tuesday at the Texas State Capitol, while we waited to enter the viewing gallery to watch legislators debate HB 2, the state’s omnibus anti-abortion bill that, if passed, which is likely, will make it impossible for doctors to provide safe, legal abortion care anywhere outside of the state’s four biggest cities.

This young guy, probably a senior in high school or a freshman in college—I didn’t catch his name—said he was real tired of wearing blue, the chosen color of anti-choice supporters of HB 2. I wore orange that day, the same color as thousands of Texans who have turned up at the capitol to stand up for reproductive rights. I also wore pink earbuds, trying to follow the house debate while waiting in line. Maybe this young guy thought I couldn’t hear him. Maybe he didn’t care.

“I’m looking forward to all this being over so I can wear my orange shirts again!” he joked. I later learned that he’d traveled from Minnesota to hang out in Austin for the week—just to see what was going on, to be another blue shirt in the gallery.

The second person I want to talk about is is Yatzel Sabat, who was dragged out of that same gallery Wednesday morning by law enforcement. Sabat was not wearing orange. She was wearing black.

Her limbs bound by state troopers, she screamed in a clear, strong voice, “This bill will kill women!” as the Texas House of Representatives gave its approval to HB 2, passing the devastating legislation along to the state senate for final passage.

Moments earlier, Sabat had first stood up from her seat as representatives cast their votes, and in that same clear, strong voice, she shouted, “As a queer woman of color, I object to these proceedings! What you are doing is an injustice! This is a travesty! There are people who are not being represented fairly!”

This bill will kill women.

Texas has passed bills that inconvenience women by decimating family planning funding and reducing access to contraception and reproductive health screenings. Texas has passed bills that traumatize women, forcing them to undergo medically unnecessary transvaginal sonograms.

But Texas is on the cusp of passing a bill that will kill women. And not only women, but transgender people and genderqueer people, who are already the most unseen, the most ignored, the most marginalized Texans, struggling in a system that makes no room or accommodation for their most basic needs.

This bill will kill. Period.

It will kill Texans who already travel to Mexico to buy abortion pills from flea markets because they are too poor to go to a legal abortion clinic, or unable to take time off work to find a doctor’s office and wait 24 hours between a state-mandated sonogram and an abortion procedure. It will kill Texans who, if HB 2 passes, cannot travel a thousand miles round trip to a San Antonio or Dallas ambulatory surgical center for a safe, legal abortion.

But if you’re a young anti-choice guy from Minnesota with a little money and time on your hands, I guess it might be an interesting lark to traverse half the country, fetus fetish in tow, to watch state legislators you can’t name kill people you’ve never met with some legislation you heard about last week. I guess the big issue in your life, if you’re that guy, is not getting to wear all those cool orange shirts you’re so fond of.

Things are a little different for Yatzel Sabat, who was one of five people arrested Wednesday at the capitol. None were ultimately charged—seems there’s not a lot of probable cause when it comes to people making a last-ditch effort at democracy.

Sabat told me that she and her friends hoped to “empower other people to make themselves heard when it comes time for a final vote.”

When abortion providers cannot perform procedures because they can’t get admitting privileges at hospitals afraid of self-described “sidewalk angels” that pack public walkways holding giant images of bloody fetuses, Texans will die.

Sabat knows this because she is a Texan. She is here. This is her state. This is her place. She knows that HB 2 is, as she describes it, “a death sentence” for her people—for Texans.

Despite the frustration and the anger from what Republican Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst has called an orange-clad “unruly mob,” much good has come from the creation of a community that finally feels it has a voice. That voice will be not be silenced Friday, when the Texas senate begins its final debate on HB 2, with a Republican majority that is all but assured to send it to Republican Gov. Rick Perry’s desk for ultimate approval.

I love the anthem “Wendy Davis,” written by the Austin rock band Bright Light Social Hour in the late-night aftermath of Wendy Davis’ epic filibuster. The song lays guitar riffs over cheers and chants of “Wendy!” from a screaming crowd at the capitol.

But there is no song that can be played under a single strained voice, crying out, “This bill will kill Texas women!” There can only be silence. 

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  • gmac

    From what I saw last night, I think David Dewhursts comment was way too friendly of a description for the orange mob. Sickening what I saw. Pure hate. I saw people all over who would have aborted me on the spot if they could have gotten away with it. If I was pro choice I would have been ashamed!

    • fiona64

      So, you assume that people who are pro-choice (meaning the right to a wide range of choices: contraception or not, gestation or termination, adoption or rearing with or without a partner) want to murder born, sapient, sentient people?

      What nonsense. And typical of the anti-choice position.

    • Jennifer Starr

      I think you can relax and cut it with the histrionics, gmac–no one is looking to abort you.

      • HeilMary1

        I’ll bet he’s a George Zimmerman fan who would love to stalk, terrorize, then shoot in “self-defense” abortion clinic patients.

      • LittleMissMellaril

        Even if they did, you would not have known.

    • Valde

      You gotta cast pro-choicers as bloodthirsty baby killers, dontcha?

      • HeilMary1

        He’s a bloodthirsty mother killer!

    • Valde

      Visit drjengunter dot wordpress dot com

      Anatomy of a Coat Hanger Abortion

      The coat hanger isn’t sterile. It isn’t even clean.

      If the woman, or girl, is alone she thrusts it blindly upwards into the vagina. She’s hoping it will get into her uterus and do something.
      She may or may not know that to get into the uterus the coat hanger has
      to navigate the small opening in the cervix called the os.”

      Plenty more gory details on the website.

      Tell me gmac, how do you feel about women who perform coathanger abortions on themselves?

      Are you glad to see them suffer and perhaps die?

    • cjvg

      Again with the massive logic fail.
      Pro-choice = it is your choice if you want to abort yourself.
      Anti-choice also falsely labeled pro-life at times= we will dictate what your option is regardless of what you want.

      Those of us who are not fascist dictators who enjoy forcing others to follow our will entirely to much, are only interested in ensuring that everyone (including you) continues to have the right to make the choices that are best for them!

      No one in the US has ever been forced to undergo a legal abortion against their will. However plenty of women and girls have been forced to stay pregnant and birth a child they did not want and could not care, for due to the numerous unreasonable and expensive obstacles created by anti-choice factions!

      You have no right to force others to live with choices that you will never have to feel the consequences off!

  • Valde

    addictinginfo dot org rick-perrys-sister-could-personally-profit-from-closing-most-of-the-abortion-clinics-in-texas

    If the bill passes, only five Texas abortion clinics
    would remain open — those that are already equipped as ambulatory
    surgical centers, advocates say. But a question remains: would the 420
    other ambulatory surgical centers that exist in Texas begin performing
    the operation? Abortion rights advocates predict that the demand for the
    procedure won’t disappear with passage of the law.

    One company that will be faced with that decision is United Surgical
    Partners International, based in Addison, TX. Their vice-president of
    government affairs is Milla Perry Jones, Gov. Rick Perry’s sister. She
    is also on the board of the Texas Ambulatory Surgical Center Society.

    Simply put, Milla Perry Jones sits on the board of the United
    Surgical Partners Corporation. They currently operate 420 surgical
    centers in the state. Closing 37 of the 42 clinics in Texas
    significantly eliminates competition and gives the company the ability
    to offer and perform abortion procedures at a higher cost. This means
    low income women will have to pay more to get an abortion and Rick
    Perry’s sister will profit from it.

    • HeilMary1

      “Anti-abortion” Perry ought to be vilified for this bait-and-switch business THEFT that will enrich his sister, if this is true!