The long-running war the religious right has waged on women and their freedom to decide for themselves whether and when to have children found a new target this weekend: the acknowledgement by state Sen. Wendy Davis, the Democratic nominee for Texas governor, that she had two abortions in the 1990s because of truly heartbreaking medical reasons.

The first was in 1994, when Davis found out she had an ectopic pregnancy. An ectopic pregnancy cannot proceed normally, the fertilized egg can’t survive, and the woman’s life is also in serious jeopardy if the pregnancy isn’t terminated. Davis’ second abortion was in 1997, after multiple doctors told her that the daughter she and her husband were expecting suffered from a severe brain abnormality and would likely not survive delivery or would, if she did survive, be in a permanent vegetative state.

Faced with excrutiatingly difficult decisions and after considering the advice of her doctors, Davis chose to terminate both pregnancies. She and her husband grieved over the loss.

But Melissa Conway of the radical anti-abortion group Texas Right to Life, treats Davis’ revelation and what she experienced with open contempt. In a sneering opinion column on the Texas Tribune’s TribTalk website, Conway pretends to know why Davis really grieved — because she chose abortion:… Read More

The Texas Legislature’s passage of House Bill 2 last summer has led to the closing of most abortion clinics across the state. In fact, the number of abortion clinics in all of Texas will have dropped from 44 in 2011 to as few as six next month if HB 2 is fully implemented. Yet activists who helped pass that bill still aren’t telling the truth about what they were trying to do.

Consider, for example, an interview with Kyleen Wright, head of the anti-abortion and anti-sex ed group Texans for Life Coalition, in the September issue of Texas Monthly. Wright tries to persuade readers that the purpose of the draconian anti-abortion legislation passed last year was to protect women, not close clinics:

We had no idea how many clinics would close. I don’t want to be disingenuous: we’re not unhappy when abortion clinics close, because we think that abortion hurts women and we know that it ends the life of a separate, unique human being. But the part of the legislation that our organization was so passionate about was the hospital admitting privileges. That was about getting some bad actors out of the industry.

Wright goes on to talk about two women who told… Read More

Today an attorney for plaintiffs seeking to block implementation of the state’s draconian anti-abortion law, last year’s House Bill 2, accused Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott’s office of hiding the full extent of its collaboration with a discredited marriage therapist who insists that abortion causes mental illness. Quorum Report (subscription required) has the story on today’s action in the federal court case in Austin.

Whole Woman’s Health, which at one time provided abortion care at clinics in Austin and South and Southeast Texas, has asked the court to block implementation of HB 2 because it imposes an undue burden on women seeking an abortion. Far-right lawmakers and allied groups have celebrated as the onerous and medically unnecessary requirements in HB 2 have forced many abortion clinics to close in Texas. If HB 2’s final provisions go into effect on September 1, the number of abortion clinics in the entire state will drop to as few as six from a total of 41 in June 2013.

According to Quorum Report, the attorney for Whole Woman’s Health says the state AG has failed to disclose how much Florida therapist Vincent Rue had helped the state in the case against HB 2. The AG’s deception appears to have angered federal… Read More

An anti-abortion extremist gunned down Dr. George Tiller as the physician attended services at his church in 2009. Dr. Barnett Slepian lost his life after an extremist shot him through a kitchen window at his home in 1998. Another rifle-toting extremist murdered receptionists Shannon Lowney and Lee Ann Nichols and injured five others at their clinics in 1994. Anti-abortion extremists created “wanted” posters of Dr. David Gunn that included his photograph, telephone number and schedule. He was shot to death during an anti-abortion protest in 1993.

These are just a few of the doctors and other workers at abortion clinics who have been the victims of violence — including shootings, stabbings, bombings, arson — over the past two decades. Yet, anti-abortion extremists continue to stalk, intimidate and harass providers, clinic employees and even patients seeking abortion care. Now NARAL Pro-Choice Texas and Progress Texas have released an undercover audio (above) that reveals some of the disturbing tactics those extremists use: identifying and monitoring patients, providers and clinic staff; lining sidewalks outside clinics to dissuade patients from entering clinics; tracking and cataloguing the physical descriptions and car license plates of patients; searching tax records to find locations of new abortion providers. LearnRead More

You really have to wonder why some of the leading voices on the right have such a difficult time hiding their contempt for women.

This weekend, for example, the Houston Chronicle reported that Erick Erickson, editor-in-chief of the influential far-right website RedState, admitted he had been wrong when he called First Lady Michelle Obama a “Marxist harpy wife.” But he expressed dismay that his description of state Sen. Wendy Davis, the Democratic nominee for Texas governor, as “Abortion Barbie” might be offensive:

“The phrase was intentional to discredit Wendy Davis, but I never thought about ‘Barbie’ being something that demeaned women. I have an 8-year-old daughter who loves Barbie.”

Oh sure. Equating an accomplished attorney and elected official with a pretty-woman doll known for her remarkable figure, cute outfits and popularity among girls in elementary school? And using that to create a dismissive moniker for someone who opposes government interference in women’s reproductive health care? Gosh, who would be offended by any of that?

Erickson isn’t that stupid, but maybe he thinks everyone else is. In any case, he knows what he said is offensive. The problem is: he also knows that kind of misogynistic rhetoric is red meat for the far-right base.

And RedState’s attacks on Texas women… Read More

Texas Freedom Network

It took years to convince the @TXSBOE to create a Mexican American studies course for the state's public schools. It's great to see school districts offering it to students.