“There shouldn’t be tension between the party and the needs of people. That’s what party is supposed to represent. I think people are more than within their rights push their politicians even if it makes them uncomfortable, to do their jobs and to not shy away from protecting women’s access to abortions, among a host of other issues as well.” — Wendy Davis
A 13-year-old rape victim makes the long journey from McAllen, in Texas’s Rio Grande Valley, to the closest open health clinic that provides abortions. At the time, it’s the Whole Women’s Health Clinic, 200 miles away in San Antonio. At 20 weeks and five days pregnant, she arrives just as the deadline for their services approaches.
Despite the willingness of the clinic workers to help, and the availability of an increasingly rare abortion doctor, the clinic is unable to obtain a nurse anesthetist. Nothing can be done, short of another expensive journey of hundreds of miles into New Mexico. The impoverished victim will never be able to make that journey in time.
“We sentenced her to motherhood,” declares a tearful Marva Sadler, director of clinical services at the clinic, in one of the most affecting scenes of the film Trapped.
My first night was a long one, ending with a midnight short film collection at Alamo Drafthouse which included such bizarre offerings as a teenager still attached to his mother by umbilical cord and the story of a girl whose selfies keep getting deleted from Instagram … because she has an asshole for a mouth. I also learned that horse dicks are funny, and you can never forget Gwilliam. Night of the Slasher, which I mentioned yesterday, was part of the program, and I plan to interview some of the creators today.
I was back downtown at 9:30 am today after barely any sleep to attend a panel on the possibilities of ‘sousveillance,’ or surveillance from the bottom-up. Oren Yakobovich, creator of Videre, talked about helping dissidents and victims of human rights abuses use hidden cameras to seek justice, while panel partner Omer Tene talked about protecting privacy in an age of body cameras and mass surveillance. I’ll be writing about this panel next week for MintPress News.
And tonight, I’m attending the world premiere of “Ovarian Psycos,” a documentary about a women of color cycling crew in East Los Angeles. Here’s a description from the filmmakers’ website:
I’ve made it down to the Austin Convention Center for the first time at this year’s South By SouthWest, and I’m excited to kick off my coverage.
Today I am taking it slow — spent the morning wrapping up some work for MintPress News’ TV show, Behind The Headline, and allowed myself some extra time to ride my bike downtown because of the traffic apocalypse caused by SXSW’s first day and Barack Obama’s visit. It still only took me about 15 minutes, and I’m feeling pretty out of shape from the winter too!
In case you’re wondering, I’m not attending Obama’s keynote address because this is the kind of topic that will be amply covered by other journalists and in other outlets. If you want a sneak preview, check out the hashtag #POTUS. And yes, apparently Obama stopped at Torchy’s Tacos on the way here!
Both sides of the conflict over the Texas Omnibus Abortion Law (HB2) link abortion to issues surrounding sexual orientation and gender identity.
In January 2013, at the beginning of the biennial legislative session, anti-abortion legislators and other groups held an event called the Rally For Life. Attended by thousands, the rally was designed to build support for the passage of HB2. The bill would ultimately fail to pass in that legislative session, requiring Gov. Rick Perry to call two successive special sessions of the Legislature before he could sign it into law.
Perry attended the Rally For Life, along with other members of the state government. Attorney General and current gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott explicitly mentioned his opposition to gay marriage in Texas during his speech.
“I know this session, working together, we’ll be able to cement the fact that Texas is the most pro-family, pro-life, pro-value state in America,” Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst told the crowd, according to the Dallas Morning News.
What does it mean to have a choice?
The U.S. Supreme Court upheld Americans’ right to choose an abortion, but that choice is meaningless if someone can’t access a legal abortion clinic or legally obtain the abortion pill. Decades of the anti-abortion movement’s attacks on abortion access depend on this, and it’s a strategy which may have just won a major victory.
The challenge of accessing abortion just became far more difficult for millions of Texans. On Thursday, the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court upheld all provisions of HB2, the Texas Omnibus Abortion Bill. As a result of the ruling, all but eight of the clinics in Texas providing abortions closed on Friday. Many Texans depended on these clinics for essential medical care beyond abortions.
Other provisions of the bill already restricted access to abortions after 20 weeks and access to the abortion pill, and added onerous requirements on abortion providers to receive hospital admitting privileges, which are often refused by the mostly Catholic hospitals in the state.
“This decision is a vindication of the careful deliberation by the Texas Legislature to craft a law to protect the health and safety of Texas women,” Lauren Bean, a spokesperson for Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, told Fox News.
“Texas faces a health care crisis, brought on by its own legislators,” Amy Hagstrom Miller, the CEO of Whole Woman’s Health, a group of abortion providers that were party to the legal challenge, told RH Reality Check.