WOW Dems joined hundreds of women on the state capitol steps in Austin, Texas on March 11th, 2015 to have their voices heard on upcoming legislation related but not limited to reproductive health. Planned Parenthood along with a host of other women’s health facilities have had their funding decimated in recent years by GOP led opposition. The result has been clinics across the state forced to shut down, leaving tens of thousands of Texas women without any way to receive the essential health services that these facilities offered. As the House prepares once again to debate the issue of women’s health funding, Texas women united together to inform their representatives that, in the words of State Rep. Roberto Alonzo (D), “Reproductive rights are human rights.”
Republican policy makers are once again determined to defund Planned Parenthood and its mission to provide comprehensive reproductive and complementary health care services. Included in this year’s proposed Texas Senate budget is an attempt to restructure the state’s Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening program in an effort to prevent Planned Parenthood from participating. Recognizing that this political ploy would have lethal ramifications, State Rep. Sarah Davis (R) spoke out against her party’s plans stating “If we don’t have the provider network, women cannot be served. And they will die.”
This latest budget proposal underlines the fact that, contrary to some detractors’ claims, the women who gathered in the capitol are not Pro-Choice proponents wanting more money to perform abortions. Indeed, they are fighting for the rights of impoverished women throughout Texas to have access to basic health care services. Since only Planned Parenthood clinics in a few Texas cities have been able to continue offering these services, many women are forced to either travel great distances or go without. One participant in Wednesday’s rally, Texas Tech student Aubrey Reinhardt, was excited to discover that her town would soon have its own clinic. “Because of the population, including Texas Tech students, and the lack of outlets to receive reproductive healthcare, Lubbock is in the most need,” she said. Currently the closest Planned Parenthood clinic is in Dallas, a five hour drive and a major deterrent to those unable to easily afford the trip.
As women from across Texas prepared to share their message with state legislators and others, State Rep. Chris Turner (D) clearly summarized the issue stating “…access to basic health care including contraception should not be dependent upon your income, zip code, race or anything else. Access to care should be a basic right that Texans are guaranteed.” Thank you to all the women who participated in this year’s rally and for all those who continue to fight for our human rights.
By: Latoya Hill