University Star Letter to the Editor: Standing Up for Texans’ Freedoms & Against Vigilante Abortion Ban
Photo courtesy of Lloyd Doggett
On September 1st, state Republicans’ dangerous, radical vigilante law went into effect—designed to end Roe v. Wade protections in Texas, cutting off access to care for almost all across our state.
For that great American cry “Let Freedom Ring,” Republicans here in Texas have substituted “let vigilantes run free.” In their draconian new law, Senate Bill 8, they encourage neighbor to spy on neighbor, and prop up vigilantes to take away individuals’ fundamental right to decide their own fate. Since it cuts off access to abortions for all after six weeks, it essentially stops access to abortion before many know they are pregnant, and makes access totally impossible for minors, who face longer approval processes and hurdles. This repellant law allows any anti-choice extremist to seek a minimum of $10,000 bounties on a driver, a physician, or anyone who may have offered counsel to a person in need. This law is such an incredible overreach that the first lawsuit was filed by an Arkansas man convicted of tax fraud. You can walk into the Texas Capitol armed and mask-less unimpeded, but a patient cannot walk into a clinic un-accosted.
To them, we say: Stop messing with Texans’ reproductive freedoms. Stop messing with the right to liberty and safety of pregnant people.
I have been inspired by the student protestors who have stood in defense of the right to choose and against this extremist law, aimed at restricting freedom and further burdening vulnerable populations. As Bobcats like Riley Belcher have demonstrated and spoken out about this injustice, I am both impressed at their strong voices and disgusted that this bravery is required because of the relentless Republican assaults on freedom. Belcher made a strong point when she said: “I’m protesting for the safe and legal access to abortion. How can you say, “my body, my choice” when it comes to issues like public health and COVID, and then take away women’s rights to choose?’”
I’ve joined Bobcats at a recent Texas Capitol protest and also brought my protests to the halls of the U.S. Capitol. In the House Ways and Means Committee, on which I serve, Texas Republican Rep. Kevin Brady introduced another amendment to further limit abortion access in federal health programs. I worked with my Democratic colleagues to successfully defeat that amendment, while decrying their relentless assault on Americans’ freedoms.
The Biden Administration is defending Texans affected by the abortion ban in the courtroom, and we are working to defend them in Congress. Friday, in the House, we approved the Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA), of which I am a sponsor, and which was coauthored by Texas Democrat Rep. Veronica Escobar. Though it faces long odds in the Senate with the filibuster blocking necessary progress on this, voting rights, criminal justice reform, and more, we will continue the struggle.
Today’s fight isn’t just about abortion; Republicans have been attacking all reproductive care for years. Building new and higher walls to accessing contraception, family planning counseling, and medically-appropriate sexual education. In the meantime, they refuse to provide support during pregnancy and after—blocking legislation that would extend postpartum health coverage, provide paid family and medical leave, and expand access to child care.
They may oppose mandates to protect public health during the worst pandemic in generations, but they rush to impose a mandate on parenthood.
With this deeply personal and complex medical decision, we don’t need Republicans in Texas or in Washington trapping someone into a permanent, life-altering future. Complete disregard for what her doctor may advise and indifference to her basic constitutional right to privacy and reproductive freedom.
This will not stand. Rejecting the narrow-minded, GOP power-hungry, vigilante injustice, we will never give up and never give in.
U.S. Representative Lloyd Doggett (D-San Marcos) represents much of San Marcos in the House of Representatives.