Last night, after six hours of debate, the Texas Senate passed the omnibus abortion regulation bill. If this bill becomes law, the number of clinics where safe and legal abortions are performed will drop to 5 in the entire state of Texas. Today, there are 47. There will be no clinics west of I-35, no clinics in South Texas, none. Five facilities for all the women in Texas.
We have one last chance to stop this attack on safe and legal abortion in Texas: the public hearing in the House State Affairs committee, currently planned for tomorrow late afternoon. If enough people speak at this hearing, the bills will lose the one thing they don’t have on their side: time. Can you speak at State Affairs tomorrow, June 20th?
Here’s how it works: the hearing process allows three minutes for each person to testify. If 20 people testify, the hearing lasts an hour. 40 people, two hours. 100 people, five hours. With the special session ending next Tuesday, June 25th, every minute this bill spends in committee is a minute its supporters lose to get it passed before the Tuesday deadline. We need to pack this hearing with pro-choice supporters who will speak for three minutes each. It’s that simple.
The tricky part is that we cannot give you an exact start time for the hearing. I know how frustrating this is, but this is the way it works in the Legislature. State Affairs will meet upon adjournment in the House. If the floor debate is short, that could be as early as 4pm; however, if the debate on the redistricting bills goes long, the State Affairs hearing could start much later. We need to be prepared to get to the Capitol early and to stay as late as it takes. Frankly, the best thing that could happen would be for the hearing to go so long that the chair decides to continue it Friday morning.
To make this easier for you, we’ll send an email alert tomorrow afternoon with information about the start time in State Affairs. We’ll also update the CADW Facebook group with information about the hearing. We’ve also created a special CADW registration page for people who can commit to coming tomorrow and Friday. Please register right now! Knowing how many of us can come and speak (and who can be there on Friday morning, if necessary) will help tremendously. Thank you for letting us know you’ll be there tomorrow and speak against this attack on Texas women.
Here’s what you need to do:
1. Sign up on CADW’s registration page so we know how many Democratic women (and men) to expect tomorrow. We’ll send you an email Thursday afternoon letting you know how it’s looking. If there’s no reason to rush there at 4pm. we’ll let you know. We’ll also update the CADW Facebook group with the information.
2. Come to the State Affairs hearing on Thursday afternoon (or evening). It’s in the Reagan Building, room 140, on the Capitol complex. Here’s a map–it’s called the JHR on the map.
3. Register to testify against the bill. This is simple and there will be people there to help you. You’ll do this when you arrive at the Reagan Building. (This is an official state form; registering on the CADW form does not register you with the committee.)
4. Wait for your turn to speak. Remember, you won’t be alone. We’ll all be waiting together.
5. Speak personally for three minutes about why you oppose the bills under consideration. It’s very important that you tell the committee why you are personally motivated to attend and why you oppose the bills they’re considering. Don’t be afraid! The committee knows that you are there as a concerned citizen. Be polite, be personal and take all 3 minutes.
6. Be prepared to return to the hearing on Friday morning and speak when your turn comes. The hearing happening on Friday morning is a great thing, but we still need to use all the time we can to slow down this destructive bill. If you can be there Friday, that would be fantastic.
Again, we’ll use Facebook and email to keep people informed about the hearing start time. We’ll also keep you posted about Friday morning.
Clearly, this is a huge undertaking. We need as many people to speak as we can get. There are women coming in from across the state to speak for only three minutes. The women of Austin need to be there too. It’s the least we can do for the women across this state.
Thank you for coming on Thursday. See you at the Reagan Building, room 140.
Lize Burr, President
Capital Area Democratic Women