In 1973, the landmark Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade ended restrictions on access to abortion. Now, in 2016, Texas lawmakers threaten to impose right-wing moralistic and medically inappropriate measures on 5.4 million women, including a sizable population of Latina and women of color. Texas House Bill 2 (HB2) was partially implemented in October of 2013, leaving Texas with 19 abortion providers down from over 40, according to Ana Rodriguez DeFrates, the State Policy and Advocacy Director at the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health in Austin, Texas.
If HB2, which goes before the Supreme Court in March of this year, is allowed to stand, millions of women of childbearing age will be left with only nine clinics able to provide constitutionally protected healthcare–in a state with 27.5 million people. Restrictions written into HB2 include medically unnecessary requirements for clinics designed to force them to shut their doors, such as doctors needing admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the clinic and 24-hour “waiting periods” for women to “consider” the procedure as well as forced ultrasounds.
Abortion has been made extremely safe by making the procedure accessible as a result of Roe–these requirements actually create the conditions for unsafe abortions and threaten women’s health in general. There is no question that Republican lawmakers want to make abortion impossible for the underprivileged in Texas, despite the constitutional right women have to choose what we do with our bodies.
It hardly seems as though 43 years have passed since Roe v. Wade in the Lone Star State, as the same issues that existed then for women exist still. For Latinas and women of color, these impositions are particularly pertinent.
Right-wing rhetoric maintains that women of color are conservative and therefore opposed to the right to choose, or that women often regret their decision following abortions.
Neither of these myths are based in fact. There is growing support for choice among people of color and Latinas according to DeFrates, and recent Gallup polls indicate an increase in support for a woman’s ability to choose.
In the last year, anti-choice activists have attempted to undermine the efforts of abortion clinics like Planned Parenthood by spreading misinformation about the ways in which these clinics operate. The lies propagated by the heavily edited videos that circulated were eventually exposed. This was a small, but important victory for women everywhere as the fear-mongering tactics often employed by the right were shut down. Planned Parenthood has filed a lawsuit against the Center for Medical Progress, the organization that created the false and heavily edited video as an attack on women and a Houston grand jury has indicted the anti-choice activists on felony counts of tampering with government records.
Now more than ever is the time to unite against reactionary right-wing attempts at the oppression of millions of women. Access to basic healthcare is at stake, signaling the need for greater organization. With unity, it is possible to raise the voices of women, including women of color and members of the LGBTQ community so that basic human rights are not violated.