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The Fight for Reproductive Justice in Texas

Carolyn Egan

September 23, 2021

A post which asked “When are they going to start airlifting women and girls out of Texas” highlighted the horror facing anyone, women or trans, seeking an abortion in that state. A Republican controlled legislature enacted Bill 8 which makes almost all abortions illegal after the sixth week of pregnancy. Just to highlight the intensity of the hatred, contempt and control the law represents, there are no exceptions even for rape or incest. 

It came into effect on September 1st after the US Supreme Court, packed with reactionary Trump appointees, rejected challenges by reproductive justice advocates. It allows for private citizens to sue anyone who aids in the provision of an abortion. Other Republican controlled states are expected to enact similar legislation which will restrict the most basic right to control our own bodies. 

I remember when I was very young, the Hyde Amendment was passed in Washington DC which denied Medicaid funding to low income women who were seeking an abortion. The first to die was Rosie Jimenez, a 27 year old Texan from the Rio Grande valley. She was a single mother who sought an illegal abortion in Mexico because a doctor in the US denied her the procedure. It was no longer covered by Medicaid and he wouldn’t provide it. She was left to die, and this will be the fate of others. It will have a profound effect on low income and racialized women who cannot afford to go out of state.

Historically reproductive rights have been won through the efforts of broad based movements, as we have seen recently in Argentina, Mexico and a few years ago in Ireland. These rights were never given freely but were fought for. Huge demonstrations celebrated the victories. We have seen mass organizing in countries like Poland against restrictive laws which have brought tens of thousands into the streets. These movements include trade unions, organizations from racialized communities, LGBTQ activists and others who understand the need for solidarity  coming together in united fronts to beat back the forces of reaction. 

Dr Alan Braid, an obstetrician-gynecologist in San Antonio, recently performed an abortion as a direct challenge to the Texas law. In an OP ED in the Washington Post he said he saw three teenagers die when he first began his practice. “I can’t just sit back and allow things to return to 1972”. He had earlier urged a woman to travel the eight hours to Oklahoma which he would pay for, but she said, “Who’s going to take care of my kids. What about my job. I can’t afford to miss work.” He made his decision to take on the law.

When Dr Henry Morgentaler challenged the federal abortion law in Canada we organized a mass movement in this country which brought together a wide range of groups including the Canadian Labour Congress, the Black Action Defense Committee, Women Working with Immigrant Women, Aids Action Now!, the Disabled Women’s Network, the Immigrant Women’s Health Centre, the United Church and so many more. It organized the vast majority who supported abortion rights but also the right for women to have the children they choose to have with all the support services that are required, decent jobs, universal childcare, an end to coerced sterilization, employment equity, birth control services in our own languages and communities and so much more.

This is the kind of movement needed to fight for reproductive justice for all.

Learn more - Read the pamphlet, Abortion and the struggle for reproductive justice (pdf)



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