DALLAS - While the Texas House was passing the most restrictive anti-abortion bill in America, last week, in Dallas 200 Texans attended a "Stand with Texas Women" rally and press conference in front of City Hall. The night before, some 1,100 attended a rally there.
No one has kept track of all the "Stand with Texas Women" rallies, but some are reported even in other states. The bus tour is being led by Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards.
Several Texas state senators, all Democrats, spoke out for women's rights at the Dallas rally and press conference. County Judge Craig Jenkins also spoke. Most notable were City Councilwoman Monica Alonzo and state Sen. 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 here began at the end of June, when a special session of the state legislature wound down. State Sen. Wendy Davis of Fort Worth carried out an exhausting filibuster to run out the clock before the Republican majority could pass their anti-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 Gov. Rick Perry called a second special session specifically to pass the abortion bill.
Planned Parenthood is providing orange t-shirts with a big Texas logo for anyone who will volunteer in the fight. Anti-abortion advocates, who wear blue shirts, have tried, but failed, to out-mobilize the women's rights supporters. At the Dallas rally, they didn't even show up.
On the Stand With Texas Women bus tour, Cecile Richards 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 legislative session, they also drastically cut an important health program for children. Richards says the Republicans claim to be for "right to life," but not for any kind of decent life for Texas children.
Other speakers made 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. Democratic state Sen. Kirk Watson put it directly: "Texas needs a woman governor!"
With the anti-abortion bill now passed in the Senate, and as Democratic attorneys get ready to file lawsuits against it, the bus tour continues and the women's upsurge spreads.
Photo: Rally at Dallas City Hall, July 10, 2013. Jim Lane/PW