Reproductive Rights

Texas has become a laboratory for bad ideas when it comes to reproductive rights. In recent years state lawmakers have passed some of the toughest anti-abortion measures in the country, essentially making the procedure almost inaccessible for many Texas women.

The Texas Freedom Network supports efforts to ensure women have access to abortion and other reproductive health care services. That access requires adequate state funding and broad availability of birth control, especially for low-income women.

Resources

Just Texas: Faith Voices for Reproductive Justice

Just Say Don’t Know: Sex Education in Texas Public Schools (2009 report)

Sex Education in Public Schools: Progress in the Lone Star State (2011 report)

Texans Stand Up for Access to Birth Control: Results from a Statewide Survey of Texas Voters (2013 report)

The religious right’s vicious and deceitful attack on Planned Parenthood — part of a long war on abortion and other other reproductive health care services for women — appears to be backfiring in a big way.

Last year anti-abortion activists released a number of deceptively edited, undercover videos that suggested Planned Parenthood was illegally selling tissue from aborted fetuses. Religious-righters and their political allies — like Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick — demanded that authorities investigate and prosecute Planned Parenthood.

Planned Parenthood officials strongly denied the charges and pointed out that the videos had been edited in a way designed to smear and embarrass the organization. Moreover, they argued that the video makers used fake government IDs and made other false representations in order to get into private conference and health care clinics when making the videos.

The Harris County District Attorney’s Office did launch an investigation, but it turns out that grand jurors in Houston appear to believe Planned Parenthood instead of the lies coming from anti-abortion fanatics.

A Harris County grand jury has declined to indict Planned Parenthood officials in Houston. Instead, the grand jury has handed down indictments against two people involved in making the videos. David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt were indicted on charges of tampering with a government document.… Read More

We told you over the holidays about Texas state Rep. Jonathan Stickland’s offensive “joke” about marital rape: “Rape is non existent in marriage, take what you want my friend!” Since then, Scott Braddock of the Austin-based political website Quorum Report has reported that Stickland, R-Fort Worth, is one of five Tea Partiers in the Texas House who voted last spring against legislation designed to make it easier to bring sexual predators to justice.

Stickland, and state Reps. Reps. Matt Rinaldi, Matt Schaefer, Tony Tinderholt, and Cecil Bell — all Republicans and Tea Party/religious-right heroes — voted against House Bill 189, which drops the statute of limitations in criminal sexual assault cases in which there is “probable cause that the defendant committed the same or similar crime against five or more victims.” It also extends the statute of limitations in civil cases against sex offenders. The bill passed with large majorities (just five “no” votes on the final bill), and Gov. Greg Abbott signed it into law.

Braddock’s Dec. 31 article about the issue (behind a paywall) also notes that Rep. Schaefer’s chief of staff was recently arrested for soliciting a minor for sex. (We’ll note that the five Tea Partiers/religious-righters are also hardline “traditional values” lawmakers opposed… Read More

Scott Braddock of the Austin-based online political website Quorum Report has come across a stunningly callous and offensive comment state Rep. Jonathan Stickland, R-Fort Worth, made some years back in an online forum:

“Rape is non existent in marriage, take what you want my friend!”

Stickland, a hero of tea partiers and religious-righters, apparently made the shocking comment seven years ago in an online forum discussion about a guy whose wife wasn’t interested in performing a particular sexual act. His comment included a smiley face, suggesting he made it as a joke. Joke or not, the remark would appear to reinforce Stickland’s reputation as a politician with a callous disregard for women.

During the 2015 legislative session, he and other anti-abortion lawmakers posted “Former Fetus” signs on their office nameplates. Stickland also tried to pass a measure that would have banned abortion even in cases of severe fetal abnormalities, thus requiring a pregnant woman to carry a nonviable fetus to term. Earlier in the session he filed a bill that would have had Texas taxpayers reimburse employers fined for refusing to provide coverage for birth control in their employee health insurance plans.… Read More

The only issue that matches the far right’s obsession with gay sex is abortion. Let’s take a look at what we heard from the right this year about women and reproductive health care. The right’s contempt for women (including from other women!) was evident in other areas as well. (Click here for previous posts on what we heard from the right in 2015.)

“People ask me all the time. ‘Well, I just don’t understand why God wouldn’t protect our nation and he would allow these radical Muslims in 2001 to kill 3,000 of our citizens and why God doesn’t protect us. Surely, God doesn’t use pagans to bring judgment upon his own people, does he?’ Just read the Bible. God will not allow sin to go unpunished and he certainly won’t allow the sacrifice of children to go unpunished.”

– Dallas megachurch pastor Robert Jeffress, suggesting that the horrific terrorist attacks on 9/11 were God’s judgment on America for legal abortion.

“To find out that this culture of death is now leading to the sale — this is no different than what happened in Nazi Germany. No different than doing the experiments on the old men and old women… Read More

Clergy Sign Open Letter as Federal Judge Prepares to Hear Lawsuit over Medicaid Funding Ban for Health Care Services at Planned Parenthood Clinics

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE December 10, 2015

Clergy from diverse faith traditions across Texas are calling on Gov. Greg Abbott to stop interfering with the freedom of women to see providers of their choice for health screenings, family planning and other reproductive health care services.

“Women have a moral and legal right to decide for themselves which health care providers they will see,” said the Rev. Valda Jean Combs, an associate minister at Brentwood Baptist Church in Houston. “As faith leaders in our communities, we cannot be silent when politicians interfere with that freedom and risk leaving vulnerable women without access to the basic care they need and deserve.”

Combs is one of more than 50 faith leaders who have signed on to an open letter to Gov. Abbott on the issue. Today’s public release of the letter, which is available at justtx.org/medicaid, comes as Gov. Abbott tries to enforce a ban on Medicaid funding for health care services provided at Planned Parenthood clinics. Planned Parenthood has filed a lawsuit challenging… Read More