An Open Letter About the Events in Texas:
The nation stands at the edge of a historic reversal. Hard won gains of the women’s rights movement of the 1960s and 1970s are about to be turned back with devastating results for women across the country. Abortion, already a barely accessible right for most women, is now being made extinct as conservative politicians attempt to press their advantage in certain states in opportunistic fashion.
But the problem we face is deeper. In Texas, the legislature has used every legal (and some illegal) trick in the book to make sure that the pro-choice majority is not heard. The current legislation under consideration represents some of the most draconian limits on abortion rights ever. And instead of allowing normal democratic procedures to resolve the issue, the legislature has relied on a rigged process to force the bill through. A few examples are worth mention: every procedural objection that was made to Wendy Davis’s historic filibuster; the refusal to hold state-wide hearings to allow affected communities to testify about the consequences of the legislation; the intentional misreporting of how many people testified in opposition to the legislation; the years of gerrymandering which make it nearly impossible for the legislature to reflect the real wishes of the population; the organizing of “special sessions” to push through legislation.
The current legislation is too important to allow these deficits in the democratic process to go unchallenged. The bills in Texas would close down the overwhelming majority of clinics which provide abortions and thereby eliminate all of the ancillary services those clinics also provide – STD testing, family planning, health care. That some of these clinics are also the only places where low-income, people of color, and LGBTQ individuals are able to get health services means that this legislation will disproportionately impact the most vulnerable members of society.
We believe that the legislative process is stacked against those of us who believe that abortion rights are a necessary part of a woman’s ability to control her own body and make decisions about her own health. As a result, it now becomes necessary to take action outside of the legislative process. We firmly believe that if we were to stand up and be counted, the pro-choice forces in this country will outnumber the forces of reaction. It is in this vein that we call on all people who believe in a woman’s right to choose to stand up and be counted.
We propose that marches and rallies be organized in every city in Texas on July 15th in order to show just how deep the pro-choice sentiment actually runs. In Austin, we will be rallying at 8 pm at the Texas Capitol. But as these attacks against choice are not limited to Texas, we invite all those who stand for choice to join us in a national day of solidarity on July 15th. We believe it is possible to win back our rights, but only if we take a stand in the way that people have been standing for their rights in Brazil, Egypt, and Greece: by understanding that popular protest has the ability to change what a narrow minority of people impose under the fiction of legality.
Tithi Bhattachrya, Associate Professor of History, Purdue University
Tiffani Bishop, GetEqual TX Central Texas Lead
Brian A. Bremen, Associate Professor of English, University of Texas at Austin
Susan Briante, MFA, PhD, Associate Professor, Creative Writing Program, University of Arizona
Heather Busby, Executive Director, NARAL Pro-Choice Texas
Judith Butler, Maxine Elliot Professor of Rhetoric, University of California, Berkeley
Mia Carter, Associate Professor of English, University of Texas, Austin
Indrani Chatterjee, Associate Professor of History, University of Texas, Austin
Dana Cloud, associate professor of Communication, University of Texas, Austin
Bug Davidson, Director of Homoscope Film Festival
Anton Ford, Assistant Professor of Philosophy, University of Chicago
Montserrat Garibay, National Board Certified Teacher, Vice President for LULAC Council 4859, Austin,
Susan Sage Heinzelman, Associate Professor of Women’s & Gender Studies, University of Texas, Austin
Rosemary Hennessy, Director, Center for the Study of Women, Gender and Sexuality, Rice University
Jim Hightower, editor of The Hightower Lowdown, former TX Agriculture Commissioner
Heather Houser, Assistant Professor of English, University of Texas, Austin
Madeline Hsu, Associate Professor of History, University of Texas, Austin
Alison Jaggar, Professor of Distinction, Philosophy and Women and Gender Studies Research
Coordinator, University of Colorado at Boulder College
Katie Kane, Associate Professor of English, The University of Montana
Deepa Kumar, Associate Professor of Communication, Rutgers University
Holly Lewis, Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Texas State University
Bryan McCann, Assistant Professor of Communication Studies, Louisiana State University
A. Naomi Paik, Assistant Professor of American Studies, University of Texas, Austin
Sharmila Rudrappa, Associate Professor of Sociology, University of Texas, Austin
Cynthia Valadez-Mata, Jr. , League of United Latin American Citizens - District 7 Director
Snehal Shingavi, Assistant Professor of English, University of Texas, Austin
Lindsay Smith, Houston Feminist Movement
Kathleen Stewart, Professor and Chair of Anthropology, University of Texas
Susan Stryker, Director, Institute for LGBT Studies and Associate Professor, Gender and Women’s
Studies University of Arizona
Sherry Wolf, author, Sexuality and Socialism; editorial board, International Socialist Review.
Keeanga Yahmatta-Taylor, author of Rats, Riots and Revolution: Black Housing in the 1960s, Texas native
Lijun Yuan, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Texas State University, San Marcos
Dave Zirin, Sports Editor, The Nation Magazine
NARAL Pro-Choice Texas