by Jim Lane
DALLAS--While the Texas House was passing the most restrictive anti-abortion bill in America, 200 Texans attended a "Stand with Texas Women" rally and press conference in front of City Hall. The Houston Chronicle said there were 1,100 at a rally there the night before. No one has kept track of all the "Stand with Texas Women" rallies, but some are reported even in other states. The bus tour goes from the January 10 morning rally in Dallas to Fort Worth that evening.
Several State Senators, all Democrats, spoke out for women's rights in Dallas. County Judge Craig Jenkins also spoke. Most notable were Dallas City Councilwoman Monica Alonzo and Senator Sylvia Garcia of Houston, because it is sometimes alleged that Latino voters will never support women's rights due to their Catholic commitment. Alonzo and Garcia don't agree.
A big upsurge in participatory politics began at the end of June, when a special session of the state legislature wound down. Senator Wendy Davis of Fort Worth carried out an exhausting filibuster to run out the clock before the Republican majority could pass their abortion bill. Davis immediately became a national heroine and has appeared on several national TV and radio programs since then. Literally thousands of women from all over the state converged on the capitol and have kept up their activism even after Governor Perry called a second special session specifically to pass the abortion bill.
Planned Parenthood provides orange T-shirts with a big Texas logo for anyone who will volunteer in the fight. Anti-abortion fanatics wear blue shirts and have tried, but failed, to out-mobilize the women's rights supporters. At the Dallas rally, they didn't even show up.
Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood, is leading the tour. She explains to big enthusiastic crowds that the Republican war against women did not start recently. They had already cut off support to any health clinic associated with planned parenthood. During an earlier session, they also drastically cut an important health program for children. Richards says they claim to be for "right to life," but not for any kind of decent life for Texas children.
Other speakers were sure to make the point that Cecile Richards is also the daughter of Ann Richards, the last Democratic Governor of Texas before the Republicans took over all state offices. Senator Kirk Watson put it directly, "Texas needs a woman governor!" The crowd yelled "Turn Texas Blue!"
As the Texas anti-abortion bill goes to the Senate, where it is expected to win easy approval from the Republican majority, and the Democratic attorneys get ready to file lawsuits against it, the bus tour continues and the women's upsurge spreads.
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