While you slept last night, the Texas House of Representatives had an epic battle over draconian anti-abortion legislation being advanced during a special session called by Governor Rick Perry. The bill has been introduced by Rep. Jodie Laubenberg, the official Texas ALEC Chair.
The only weapon Democrats have to fight this incredibly invasive legislation is time. They've mounted a filibuster of sorts (which is still going on in real time as I write) by offering over 20 amendments to the original bill. Republicans have responded for the most part by simply refusing to debate and tabling each amendment.
However, early in the amendment process, Rep. Laubenberg was debating the bill, and part of her argument concerned other, more indirect ways to get abortions. Specifically, Rep. Laubenberg claimed that "in the emergency room, they have what's called rape kits, where a woman can get cleaned out."
Please pick your jaw off the floor. I heard that in real time on the live feed and couldn't believe my ears. This woman actually believes that rape kits are some kind of unofficial Plan B? Clearly that abstinence-only sex education program in Texas didn't cover rape, incest, or legislative idiocy.
Beyond the wingnut factor here, every person reading this should know that this abortion bill is opposed by a majority of Texans, whether they are Republican or Democrat. As the clock ticks with each amendment, Texas Democrats are still holding the line to try and run out the clock in such a way that this bill will die before it gets to the Senate. They're joined by over 1100 Texas men and women standing up for women's health rights in Texas.
The net result of Republicans' effort to force women to have children will be the beginning of a movement to turn Texas blue. Do not, under any circumstances, write Texas off as hopeless. A resident explains:
Right now, I’m sitting in the Texas State Capitol’s house gallery, surrounded by hundreds of Texans wearing orange shirts in support of reproductive rights, here to protest an omnibus anti-choice bill that would shut down all but five abortion clinics in the state, ban abortions after 20 weeks, and make medical abortions all but impossible to prescribe or obtain legally.
If some of that sounds familiar, I want you to remember what happened in the United States House of Representatives this week: that body launched an attack on our bodies, passing a 20-week abortion ban.
It’s no accident or coincidence that so-called flyover states have passed highly restrictive abortion bills in advance of Congress’ vote. That’s part of the plan. Anti-choice politicians and activists have been working for years to reduce access to abortion in red states where they know they’ll find little opposition from friendly legislators looking to ramp up the war on women.
Texas is not a throw-away state full of throw-away people who can be shrugged off with a contemptuous, “Well, what do you expect?” Texas is not an outlier. Texas is a test case for right-wingers with their eyes on the coasts and, as Congress showed this week, Washington, D.C.
Every one of the Democrats standing for women is a hero. While clueless ALEC stooges like Rep. Laubenberg make stupid statements about misusing rape kits, Democrats are standing up and standing tall. As I write, it is 2:00 AM in Texas and they are on Amendment 13 of well over 20 amendments. It looks like they're going to pull an all-nighter, because the clock is Democrats' friend and Republicans' enemy.
While House members were not required to pass Senate Bill 5 before midnight, the start of a new calendar day could jeopardize the passage of the legislation. If the House tentatively approves the bill tonight, the House must adjourn, reconvene, and wait two hours to lay out the new calendar or two-thirds of the chamber must agree to suspend the rules to give the legislation final consideration on third reading. Without a suspension of the rules the House would be required to wait two hours to give final approval. That would less time for the Senate to confirm the House changes to SB 5, because they must wait 24 hours to act after receiving the legislation from the House, and shorten the time necessary for a senator to filibuster the bill.
Texas will not always be a red state, and the more Republicans try to crawl into our uterus, the faster it will turn blue.