By Jueseppi B.
We’ll be there — will you?
TOMORROW: Texans Rally to Oppose Attacks on Women’s Health
BREAKING! Program for the rally: Natalie Maines, State Sen. Wendy Davis, actress Stephanie March, actress Lisa Edelstein, Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards, and NARAL President Ilyse Hogue to address crowd.
See you tomorrow!
Thousands Attend Texas Capitol Anti Abortion Rally
Texas Senate Livestream 83(2)
Started on May 29, 2013
This channel carries gavel-to-gavel coverage of the Texas Senate during the 2013 special sessions. For more info on the session, as well as other Texas politics and policy news, please visit http://www.texastribune.org/.
From My San Antonio:
Texas lawmakers return to the Capitol on Monday to debate abortion in a second special session called by Gov. Rick Perry.
A filibuster by Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, ended the first special session last week when lawmakers missed a deadline to vote on the bill. Hundreds of Texans, mostly women, turned out in support of Davis and against the bill, and they vowed to return to rally Monday.
The issue has attracted thousands, not just from Texas, to rally about the bill.
Here’s what’s going on in Austin:
1:20 p.m. in the Senate Gallery: Texas Department of Public Safety troopers have been stationed inside the Senate gallery as it begins to fill. Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst has warned that he will clear the room if he cannot keep order after the Senate convenes at 2 p.m. The troopers are outfitted with zip-tie handcuffs. During Tuesday’s filibuster, outspoken protesters were removed from the gallery.
1:20 p.m. Capitol Rotunda: Men and women alike gathered in the rotunda of the Capitol to protest Monday.
Jose Orta from Taylor, Texas, came to protest the restrictive abortion bill. He said he thought it was important for men to get involved in the issue as well as women.
“I think men have to stand up as well for women’s rights. We have to stand to stand up for our daughters, sisters and mothers,” he said.
Orta said he didn’t like how men were making decisions and passing legislation controlling the bodies of women.
“We’re standing up to draconian rules,” he said. “I don’t want women to think that all men have that stance.”
Orta, originally from West Texas, said that he believes the bill would make it too hard for the women of West Texas to get abortions.
“It’s already hard to travel around in West Texas,” he said. “Adding this stress for the women in West Texas will just make it too hard.”
Orta said he was especially mad at the fact that Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst referred to those protesting last week as an “unruly mob.”
“This is the people’s house,” he said. “I can’t believe I’m 50 and we’re still doing this.”
Meanwhile, as Wendy Davis walked through the Capitol’s Rotunda, the crowds went wild.
Pro-choice supporters continue to chant.
“Not the church, not the state, women must decide their fate!”
“The people, united, will never be defeated!”
1:03 p.m.: Fort Worth residents Jennifer Silver-Hudnall and her 5-year-old son Daniel stood in the first floor of the rotunda at the Capitol holding signs silently as the pro-choice chanting continued.
Daniel, Jennifer’s adopted son, was almost aborted at 7 months from his natural mother.
“His name is Daniel because he was in the lion’s den, but he was protected,” Jennifer said.
Jennifer met Daniel’s mother through an outreach ministry group, and intervened when she found out his mother planned to abort him.
“I was pro-choice until I envisioned my own child on a medical waste tray,” Jennifer said. “I brought Daniel here to give a face to the victims.
“I held his mother’s hand when she delivered. He’s a miracle.”
12:50 p.m.: Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood, addressed the crowd in front of the Capitol.
Amongst jabs at Gov. Rick Perry, Richards emphasized Planned Parenthood wasn’t going anywhere and the the fact the bills would take the state back decades.
“Texas women settled the prairies, build this state, raised our families,” said Richards, a Texan and daughter of the late Gov. Ann Richards. “We survived hurricanes, we survived tornados, and we can survive Texas legislation.”
State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, also took the stage to applause.
She addressed the moment on the Senate floor where she had to raise her hand to make a comment.
“It’s true, some people have problems hearing women’s voices,” Van de Putte said. “For the next 30 days, make sure they hear you,” she told a roaring crowd.
12:30 p.m., in the Rotunda: Pro-choice supporters dance and chant against the bill that would reinforce restrictions on abortions in Texas.
Veronica and Rosemary Hamilton, sisters from San Diego, Calif.,, are among the leaders of the chants. The pair drove to Austin a week ago to support Wendy Davis’s filibuster.
“This bill is going to kill people,” said Veronica. “When women don’t have access to healthy abortions, they’ll start doing unhealthy things. This is a national issue, affecting more than just Texas women.”
Veronica said the 40-hour drive from California was definitely worth it.
“This is definitely going to hit the poor hard,” Rosemary said. “And there’s similar legislation being considered in other states, too. It’s important to stand up to it.”
12:25 p.m.: Davis emerges to greet the crowds.
12:15 p.m.: After no sign of pro-life protesters near the main entrance thus far, people blue shirts have begun to congregate on the lawn. Some maintain a distance from the pro-choice rally, others stand a few steps away.
Troy Rother and his wife and daughter stand under a tree a few feet away from the crowd. Rother holds a sign until a fellow pro-life advocate from the San Antonio Family Association returns, which urges passersby to honk for life.
“It’s about everybody’s rights,” Rother said, who is not part of the association and hails from College Station. “The rights of the unborn, who are hurt more than anyone.”
“It’s about better health care for women, too,” adds Jen, Troy’s wife.
An elderly woman yells “honk” as she passes the sign.
Noon, Capitol, Second Floor, outside of Senate chambers: Around 50 to 80 members of the San Antonio Family Association came to the Capitol to support pro-life legislation.
“We came to represent the organization we started,” said Patrick Von Dohlen, the chairman of the organization. “This session is about the future of our state and our society. We have to protect our most vulnerable.”
Von Dohlen said he thinks it’s important for men to take a stronger stand on abortion.
“It takes a man and a women to procreate,” he said. “While the woman is sharing space with the baby in the womb, the father helps make the baby. If (men) don’t stand up for their unborn children, women often feel like they don’t have options.”
He said he believes men should be more involved because they are 50 percent of the equation.
11:50 a.m.: As chanting against the bill continued, more and more pro-choice supporters gathered in the Rotunda of the Texas Capitol.
University of Texas at San Antonio students Kexia Nero and Samantha Burns were among the crowd.
“I we don’t stand up for our rights, who will,” Nero asked.
Nero, 20, and Burns, 21, said they believe it is important as young women to stand for women’s health and the right to choose when it comes to womens’ bodies.
“It’s our bodies,” said Burns. “I think this session is pointless. We shouldn’t let other people decide to make these choices for other people’s bodies.”
The two drove from San Antonio on Monday morning, arriving at the Capitol around 11.
Burns said she knows people who have had abortions.
“It’s traumatizing,” she said, “but it’s their choice.”
11:45 a.m.: Chants of “Wendy, Wendy” come from the main stage as Bright Lights Social Hour amps up the crowd.
In the meantime, a girl in braids holds up a handmade sign that reads “Girls Rock.” The child, Matilda Flowers, stands next to her mother, Dana Schultez and her aunt Jen Schultez.
“I brought my daughter because I wanted her to see the process happen,” Schultez said, who traveled from Fort Worth. “(We) have to (make our voice heard) in politics.”
Schultez said she attended the Day 1 events because she believes the bill affects her and her daughter’s personal rights as women.
“This is not about infanticide,” Schultez said.
Around 11:30 a.m.: Natalie Maines of The Dixie Chicks sings “Not Ready to Make Nice” on the steps of the Capitol.
10:58 a.m.: Pro- life supporters gathered on the second floor of the Capitol as the leader of the pro-life organization Austin Bound4LIFE, Thomas Umstattd, spoke to the crowd.
“The eyes of the nation are on Texas right now,” said Umstattd. “People have come from all over the nation to pray to God for one purpose: to save life.”
As he continued his speech, pro-life gatherers clapped as pro-choice supporters yelled out over the crowd.
“When they scream, we will be quiet. They have anger but we have love,” he said.
“There are generations of Texans who are in the womb. We are here to speak for them.”
After Umstattd’s speech, the crowd recited the Lord’s Prayer.
Umstattd said pro-life supporters would keep a “peaceful” and “prayerful” presence over the course of the special session.
10:42 a.m.: Pro-life supporters began to gather outside the senate chamber and on the second floor of the Capitol. Many wore red tape with the word “Life” written across; some donning it on their mouths and others on the front of their shirts.
Nancy Castro, a San Antonio native, said she left as early as 5 a.m. to get to the Capitol from San Antonio.
“I knew that if I wanted to represent, that I would have to be here from the beginning,” Castro said. “I left at 5 a.m. to be here.”
Castro, who has had three abortions in the past, said it was important for her to be here to represent unborn children and let women know of the pain it leaves women with.
“When I had my abortions, I didn’t realize how I would feel after,” Castro said. “No one told me. We want people to be fully informed.”
Castro began to tear up as she talked about her previous experiences with abortion. She now has two adopted children and a natural son.
“It took him a long time to forgive me,” she said. “He wanted siblings.”
“There’s a pain you have to live with. We want these people to know the pain that comes with this for the woman.”
Sylvia Rodriguez, an Austin resident, also came to support the bill.
“The baby is a human life, and we’re speaking for life,” she said. “It goes beyond politics.”
Rodriguez also had an abortion. She now has two sons.
10:15 a.m.: The orange-clad crowd is growing in front of the Capitol.
As people file in, Linda Brooks urges people over to a circle of people signing cards.
“I saw these giant cards at H-E-B and I thought, great,” she said.
Amongst the names of senators and representatives receiving the cards are state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte and state Sen. Wendy Davis, of whom Brooks is a constituent.
“(We) want to thank the people who are working so hard on their constituents’ behalf, and (people) can’t always do that,” said Brooks, who lives in Arlington.
Brooks plans to deliver the cards to offices this evening.
9:45 a.m., just outside the Capitol: As men roll a cart filled with water down the path leading from the Capitol, Natalie Atwater stands serenely by a red pull cart. A sign propped up reads “the people’s food.”
“I was here last week and it was very energy-taxing,” said Atwater, an Austin resident. “You don’t want to leave … to keep solidarity.”
She added she was repaying the favor to those had provided food for her.
“My body, my choice” is painted on her torso as she hands out apples, yogurt and pastries.
“I’ll be here all day, all week, all month if I have to,” Atwater said.
People started gathering on the Texas Capitol Rotunda floor as early 7 this morning, ready to protest during the second special session.
Pre-rally, outside Capitol: Lainie Duro, an Austin resident, has set up her own section of the rotunda floor to be the makeshift “People’s Library,” where people can read pamphlets and books on women’s health.
“I wanted to have an early presence,” Duro said. “This is one of my days off from work and I wanted to be here if people had questions or wanted to get involved.”
In addition to the “People’s Library,” Duro is helping run the “People’s Filibuster.” She’s taking down people’s testimonials, and sending them to the face of the filibuster, Austin native Quinn Cornship.
Cornship, along with others in various areas around the Capitol, are live streaming and reading the collected testimonials. Links to the live streams can be found on riseuptx.org.
“(The various pro-choice organizations) quickly formed a community through riseuptx.org,” Duro said. “We have twitter feeds, Facebook groups and various live streams.”
Duro, a member of Occupy Austin and Unruly Mob Media, said she thought it was important for her to give a voice for the women who can’t make it to the Capitol.
“I wanted to support the full spectrum of women’s health,” Duro said. “I feel like this affects poor, rural women. They can’t be here. I think it’s important for them to be represented.”
When asked why she’s a proponent of abortion, Duro laughs and answers easily.
“I have a uterus,” she said. “I’m a proponent of women listening to their bodies. I want to make sure people’s health care choices are based on what they think is best.”
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