This Is What The Resistance Looks Like…

SB 8, the bill that mandates cremation or burial of the remains of any pregnancy, has passed in the Texas House and Senate–despite protests, medical professionals’ opinions that it would hurt women’s health, and a million more reasons–and will become (unconstitutional) law. We look forward to the day that it is struck down in the Supreme Court (something that has already happened to a previous version of the bill), but until that day, this bill–now a law–will harm the well-being of our communities, and we will continue to fight back.

Stay strong, Texas. We will keep fighting.

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“Abandon abortion, and we abandon you.”

I’m borrowing heavily from this article by Lauren Rankin over at Dame Magazine (including the title of this post), because reading that particular piece made me realize that I can’t stay silent about this anymore.

As someone who wholeheartedly believed in and supported the platform that Bernie Sanders ran on during the primaries for the presidential election 2016, I was shocked and hurt that Sanders recently campaigned for Heath Mello, a candidate for mayor of Omaha, Nebraska who served in the Nebraska legislature as a Democrat. As a policymaker in the Nebraska legislature, Mello consistently supported and voted for anti-choice legislation that severely restricted access to abortion in his state. Yet he identifies as a Democrat, and Sanders took it upon himself to decide that, despite Mello’s support for restricting access to reproductive healthcare, Mello deserved all the fanfare and celebration of the DNC’s Unity Tour.

In other words: So what if Mello is anti-choice?


I’ll tell you what: There’s a slippery slope from, “So what if this one guy doesn’t support abortion? He’s still a Democrat!” to “So what if this legislature outlaws abortion? It was written by Democrats!”

The DNC both sort-of defended and distanced itself from Sanders’ actions, owing to (I am assuming) the fact that its leaders and members can no longer agree on this one issue. Meanwhile, Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi has also chimed in to argue that Democrats, she guesses, should no longer even be held to the standard of being pro-choice.

Sanders’ endorsement and active campaigning on Mello’s part (and the DNC’s Unity Tour implicit endorsement of this) illustrates that reproductive rights are not at the forefront of the Democratic establishment’s collective mind. In the past, Sanders claimed to campaign for justice and equality for all in society; to fight against conservatives’ repression of marginalized communities and their needs; to amplify the voices of those in our society that have, for so long, been silenced. A big part of Sanders’ enormous appeal in the 2016 election cycle was his intersectionality, his inclusion of women and people of color and other traditionally marginalized communities. And yet the man (and many of his supporters) does not seem to believe that reproductive rights (and maternal healthcare, support for single parents, and paid family leave) are a huge part of the key to freedom for women of color and their communities.

Sanders’ platform still states that he is strongly in favor of reproductive rights, economic equality, and freedom and justice for all. (The DNC platform does too.) He talks the talk–so why won’t he walk the walk? And, no, Bernie, it isn’t enough to argue “you just can’t exclude people who disagree with us on one issue.” Nothing is just “one issue”–everything is connected, and abortion rights are no exception.

Lauren Rankin argues that the Democratic Party needs to wholeheartedly, unabashedly and enthusiastically embrace abortion once and for all. As an individual who consistently votes Democrat, I completely agree. However, NOW is nonpartisan, and we will always stand by our values before we stand by any political party or establishment.

So, I will gladly repeat Rankin’s frank and apt warning to the DNC: Abandon abortion, and we abandon you.

Posted in Abortion, Body politics, Economic security, National issues, Politics, Righteous anger | Leave a comment

New Braunfels CPC Protest with CenTex NOW!

New Braunfels, it’s time to get woke.

Our new Central Texas NOW Task Force (CenTexNOW) is hosting their very first Fake Clinic protest on Saturday, May 27 in New Braunfels! This is a monumental step in spreading awareness of the crisis pregnancy center (CPC) epidemic in Texas – New Braunfels is a conservative community that actively supports its local CPC, so it is super important that we support feminists (especially other NOW members) who are determined to protest it.

WHAT: CPC protest in New Braunfels, TX hosted by Central Texas NOW Task Force
WHEN: Saturday, May 27, 2017 @ 10am
WHERE: Options For Life, 1126 TX-337 Loop, New Braunfels, TX

If you have Saturday, May 27 free to make it to this protest, PLEASE attend & help make it a success! #StopFakeClinics

PLUS: Austin NOW members & officers will be organizing carpools from the city, specifically the North Austin area. Please let us know ASAP if you would like a ride, or if you are willing to take people from your area down to NB. We will try to make this as easy on out-of-town members as possible!

We may go out to lunch afterwards, so stick around if you can 🙂

Posted in Abortion, Protests, Reproductive Justice, Righteous anger | Leave a comment

Join us for CPC Protest Training TOMORROW!

WHAT: CPC Protest Training
WHEN: Saturday, April 29, 2017 @10am-1pm
WHERE: Radio Cafe, 4204 Manchaca Rd., Austin, TX

Facebook event link

Interested in protesting a CPC regularly? It’s super easy and we’ll give you all the resources you need! Required training is simple and consists of 2 parts:

Information Session: Your NOW officer will give you tips on protesting, including the basics of following the law, how to respond if an anti tries to engage with you, and how to communicate with law enforcement, if needed. You will also be able to sign up for a specific CPC of your choice and hopefully meet/choose a protest buddy. This discussion should take no longer than 30-45 minutes.

In-Person Protest Training: After the information session, trainees will acquire in-person protest experience by protesting a CPC with their NOW officer(s). This Saturday,we will head over to South Austin Pregnancy Resource Center (SAPRC), which is within walking distance of Radio Cafe, and protest as the next part of your training.

[[ Not familiar with Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs), AKA Fake Clinics? Want to know why we’re protesting them?
Check out our Fake Clinic FAQ. ]]

Those interested in the Adopt-a-CPC program with NOW must attend both an informational meeting run by a NOW officer AND do an in-person training with a NOW officer in order to be eligible. (Whether you complete both parts of the training with us this day at Radio and at SAPRC afterwards, or you complete one part on a different occasion, does not matter–as long as you complete both parts of training before starting your regular CPC protests.)

Adopt-a-CPC Pledges should also be signed and turned in to the NOW officer who conducts training. Those who complete training requirements will be given protest materials including NOW Truth Squad t-shirt(s), NOW informational fans (including Keep Abortion Legal, Stop Fake Clinics, etc.), protest signs, and pamphlets to hand out to interested passersby.Further details & questions will be addressed during the training.


See y’all on Saturday!

Posted in Abortion, Calls to Action, Protests, Reproductive Justice | Leave a comment

Why I Made a Sign That Says HONK IF YOU LOVE PIZZA & ABORTION

I get emails and comments about this sign on a fairly regular basis, and none of them are positive. So, with the resigned spirit of someone educating people on purposeful shock-humor, I’m going to take this opportunity to explain myself.

If you’ve ever been vilified for something over and over again, cruelly and mercilessly, you might be familiar with a unique feeling of such desperation and hopelessness that occasionally gives you the sudden and intense desire to shove it–whatever it is that people are mocking–straight back into everyone’s face.

If it’s your speech impediment, you might want to do it more often, purposefully; if it’s your flashy clothes, you might want to dress to the nines; if it’s your sexual orientation, you might want to come out and flaunt it; if it’s the fact that you’ve had an abortion, you’ll eventually want to scream it to the fucking heavens and beyond, or wear a dress that announces it to everyone at your party–or make a sign that juxtaposes said medical procedure with an extremely common, affordable, and universally-beloved food.

Me, the godless heathen, holding the most infamous work of art I will probably ever make

Look, sometimes people who’ve had abortions have lots of strong and/or complicated feelings about it all, or they regret it. Sometimes people who’ve had abortions don’t feel much at all about it. Sometimes people who’ve had abortions are generally cool with it and feel relieved afterwards. Sometimes people who’ve had abortions don’t want to think about it at all, ever again. All of those thoughts and feelings are valid, and they should be understood, sympathized with, and normalized.

To NOT normalize abortion, to NOT be okay with a sign that has both words ‘pizza’ and ‘abortion’ in the same sentence, to NOT agree with the idea that this procedure can be commonplace and okay–is to completely play into the anti-abortion/anti-choice narrative that the procedure is always horrible, scary, difficult, blah blah blah, and everyone who has it done should be ashamed.

If you have a problem with my sign, it is a good indicator that you need to examine yourself and what your true thoughts are about abortion. And if you call yourself pro-choice but don’t agree with normalization of abortion… Dude, all I can say is, rethink stuff. Rethink it hard.

I believe that it is our right and responsibility to normalize the heck out of abortion. If you love pizza and you also happen to love abortion, you love that people have and hopefully will continue to have (increased) access to it, you want abortion for everyone on demand and without apology–honk your horn next time you see this sign.

I’m not going anywhere, and neither is it.

UPDATE 5/4/17: This sign and article have sparked lots of (mostly) productive conversations. Let me address a few additional concerns that have come up as a result.

Q: This sign will fuel anti-abortion advocates’ misinformation campaign(s) about how “bad” pro-choice advocates are.

A: The bottom line is that the extremist right and pro-life/anti-abortion proponents will run in circles trying to make abortion seem like the worst thing in the world. It doesn’t matter what my sign says. Trust me: they’re looking for reasons to vilify us anyway. We need to march on and not cater to their squeamishness. Trying to fight within their parameters not only makes us look weak and noncommittal to the cause, but also allows them the upper hand and the power to make the rules. We do not owe them comfort, we do not owe them authority, we do not owe them anything.

Q: You’re too young to know anything. Why, you look like a teenager, and you’re trying to tell ME what to believe?!

A: That’s a bullshit argument and you know it. (I bet you hit that ‘like’ button on Facebook when you saw that video of the 16-year-old girl schooling a senator for voting to defund Planned Parenthood, you filthy hypocrite.)

Q: If you would just change the sign to say “Honk if you love abortion ACCESS”, I would be comfortable with it. Why can’t it say that instead?

A: My short answer to this is that I’m not going to change my sign just to make you less squeamish.

My much longer explanation is this: I’ll be honest with you–originally, this sign was made to piss off pro-lifers, and add shock value to an argument for reproductive rights that so often shies away from the nitty-gritty. Of course it’s going to make a lot of people uncomfortable. I’m not an idiot; I chose the wording very purposefully. (I guess I thought it was kind of funny, too, but that seems to be lost in the chaos these days.)

What I mean by all of this is that, as advocates for reproductive health, knowledge, and rights, we often take great pains to focus on the “softer” side of things. (For example, lots of people like to point out that Planned Parenthood does so many other things than abortion! Abortion is only 3% of their services! So they can’t be that bad! …Who cares? We’re fighting about abortion access, here.)

Abortion rights advocates are so often on the defensive, putting emphasis on how abortion should be as rare as possible, how we don’t like it but we guess it’s gotta be available, yadda yadda yadda. Don’t get me wrong–those are very valid arguments that should still be used. But they shouldn’t be all we’re saying. The downside to these arguments is that they tend to paint abortion as a “necessary evil,” rather than a medical procedure that should not only be legal, accessible, and safe, but also normalized in our culture and society.

Defensive arguments like the above should be a part of a larger, more diverse group of arguments for abortion access. We need to stop being on the defensive all the time and go on the offensive. We need to stop being afraid to ruffle feathers. Sure, a confrontational, brash, proud-to-say-it kind of approach isn’t for everyone–but it is another valid way to fight back, and fight back hard.

I love abortion access, and I also love the specific procedure called abortion. I love it because it frees people from pregnancy when they don’t want to be pregnant; I love it because it prevents babies from being born only to suffer intensely and then die; I love it because it prevents abusers from keeping hold on their victims; I love it because when it is freely chosen, it is always a tool for freedom and opportunity and agency.

Stop being ashamed of supporting abortion. It’s time to be brave, and I’m giving you a reason to be. So get out there and fight.

Posted in Abortion, Body politics | Leave a comment

April Organizing Meeting Canceled

Due to the likelihood of inclement weather, our (outdoors) meeting at Spider House Cafe is canceled today. We are cutting it close with a tornado warning and want to make sure everyone stays safe.

Since we didn’t get to share with you the PLENTY of actions we’ve got going on this month, please take a look at the meeting agenda below for a complete list of NOW-sponsored events through April:

Click here to see our April 2017 meeting agenda

Heidi Group / Everett Protest
As you can see, we are particularly focused on anti-CPC actions and voter registration this month.

A NOTE ON CPC PROTEST TRAINING: Everyone interested in protesting a CPC under NOW’s name & resources is welcome to attend the CPC Protest Training events, but please do not attend again if you have already received the training. We do not have large meeting spaces secured for the training events and we need these groups to be small enough that we can meet in cafes and other small spaces while maintaining relative quiet and respect for the establishment(s). 8-10 people is the ideal maximum.

Remember, you only need to attend 2 sessions: Informational & Protest. If you have already attended one, please do not attend it again because you will essentially be taking the spot of someone who has not received the training and still needs to do so.

Lastly–we rely heavily on Facebook and Meetup for RSVP numbers, so if you are not on either of those platforms, please send us an email at AustinAreaNOW@gmail.com if you plan to attend a CPC Protest Training.

A NOTE ON VOTER REGISTRATION: If you are located in Travis or Williamson County and a certified VDVR in 2017 and would like to participate in the Georgetown Poppy Festival and/or Pecan Street Festival, please contact WilCo NOW Task Force president Sharol Lovett at NOWWilCo@gmail.com.

NEXT AUSTIN NOW / WILCO NOW MEETING: May 6 @ 6:00pm, Spider House Cafe

See y’all there!

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Still waiting for a t-shirt?

If you are a new member of Austin NOW (i.e. dues paid for the year) and you have not received either your free NOW member t-shirt OR your commemorative NOW Women’s March t-shirt, please send us an email here (AustinAreaNOW@gmail.com) as soon as you can with your first & last name, shirt size*, and which shirt you would like.

Every new NOW member gets a free shirt, and I know we still owe some of you yours, so please let us know ASAP!

Two options below:

reg t-shirt  women's march t-shirt

Peace & love,

Lexie

P.S. If you like both shirts, we are now happily offering our purple & gold NOW Women’s March commemorative tees at a special discount of $10!

*Sizes are unisex and range from adult S – 3XL. Unfortunately, we do not have children’s sizes available.

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Adopt-a-CPC Initiative Has Launched!

Yesterday, Austin NOW & Williamson County NOW Task Force launched our Adopt-a-CPC initiative with the help of dedicated NOW volunteers and members of the Austin chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America. We are incredibly excited to get this project off the ground!

OUR GOALS:

  • Spreading awareness of CPCs and the harm they do to people who can get pregnant via the lies they tell about abortion, birth control, and reproductive healthcare;
  • Drawing attention to Carol Everett and The Heidi Group, and their evangelical agenda to use taxpayer money to fund CPCs and ineffective abstinence-only education; and
  • Encouraging citizens of Central Texas to pressure local & state governments to STOP sending taxpayer money to right-wing evangelical groups like The Heidi Group and to STOP putting unqualified, greedy fear-mongers like Carol Everett on committees in Texas government in a clear violation of the separation of church & state.

WHAT WE DO:

  • NOW members sign up to “adopt” a CPC, pledging to protest the CPC at least twice monthly for a total of at least 4 hours.
  • CPC adopters agree to abide by rules of procedure and non-engagement with CPC employees/volunteers and anyone looking to argue and will be non-confrontational & law abiding at all times.
  • Austin or WilCo NOW will provide signs & materials for protesting CPCs and recruiting additional members/spreading awareness to passersby and potential CPC clients.

Our training in Round Rock went fabulously, and afterwards we were able to protest The Heidi Group’s offices as well as march down the street to a CPC associated with Carol Everett and protest them, too!

If you are interested in volunteering for the Adopt-a-CPC program, please contact Lexie at AustinAreaNOW@gmail.com if you are in Travis County or Sharol at NOWWilCo@gmail.com if you are in Williamson County. 

If you don’t live in Travis or Williamson County but you’d like to bring the Adopt-a-CPC program to your neck of the woods, send an email to either one of us or message us on Facebook (ATX or WilCo).

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We Protested the Rally For Life

The Rally For Life is an annual gathering of anti-abortion proponents in cities around the U.S. every year. We had our very own Texas RFL at the Capitol this year, and Austin NOW members were there to protest!

    

We want to thank everyone who came out to tell anti-abortioners that reproductive rights are human rights, and we will NOT be silent in the face of oppression!

Posted in Abortion, Protests, Reproductive Justice | Leave a comment

What a Weekend!

What an amazing weekend!! Between the One Resistance march, Women’s March, and the Roe v Wade anniversary rally… Y’all, we are all exhausted, so I’m just gonna leave these photos here!

P.S. !!!

Posted in Awe-inspiring, Body politics, Everything is a feminist issue, National issues, Reproductive Justice, Righteous anger | Leave a comment