Opponents and supporters of abortion rights gathered at the Texas State Capitol in Austin to voice their opinions on legislation that would shutter all but five of the 42 abortion clinics in the state.
Ideological lines were drawn in the frenzy surrounding Governor Rick Perry’s special session, which will ultimately decide the fate of legal abortion in Texas. Supporters of State Senator Wendy Davis, whose filibuster made waves all over the Web last week, wore orange in defense of reproductive rights. There were also a few blues, under the banner #ProTXWomen, fighting for Texas Bill SB-5, which would limit abortion access in the state. Both sides tweeted under the hashtag #standwithtxwomen.
Unlike the do-or-die moment of June 25–26, this gathering was more symbolic than political. It was less of an unruly mob and more of a lively BBQ—with less meat and more signs and water bottles. Many predicted that while it was possible that a conversation would take place Monday, it would more likely stretch out over the weeks to come. The hunch proved correct: The House State committee officially pushed back the SB-5 conversation to Tuesday, July 9.
Photos via Stand With Texas Women/Facebook
However, groups enflamed by Davis’s filibuster had mobilized in advance of any action, taking action online to make sure constituents were well-informed on the particulars of the bills. Some even published tips for potential arrestees.
Prep for arrest: eat well. Pee. Have layers of clothing. Make sure someone has your legal info. #FeministArmy— The Unruly Mob (@UnrulyMobTX) July 1, 2013
The rally began with a performance by Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks. Presbyterian minister Jim Rigby—not initially announced on the Facebook event page for the rally—took the religious offensive in support of pro-choice constituents, usually the domain of the Christian right: “Jesus never said one single word about abortion,” he pointed out. Actress Lisa Edelstein of House spoke of playing a doctor on TV, pointing out that she was “about as qualified to make decisions about your rights as Rick Perry.”
I'll see you at the TX Capitol tomorrow to support Wendy Davis and women's rights.— Natalie Maines (@1NatalieMaines) July 1, 2013
President of Planned Parenthood Cecile Richards, daughter of Governor Ann Richards, was one of a few speakers who framed the issue as one that ultimately transcended partisan politics. “I’m a Texan, I’m a woman, and no government can make personal decisions for me,” she said.
All told, it may have been actress Stephanie March who had one of the best bon mots of the day: “Some of us wear pretty dresses, some of us wear pink shoes. We are an army, and we are coming for you.”
But if you were expecting a violent revolt, you would have been disappointed.
As I walked up to the Capitol, I heard a woman telling her young children, “If you see someone in blue, make sure you tell them, ‘Bless your heart.’”
Photo via Facebook