Yesterday was the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Here in Austin, we had a great rally on the Capitol steps! It was fantastic to see so many pro-women groups coming together, including NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas, Lilith Fund, Jane’s Due Process, Whole Woman’s Health, the local Unitarian Universalist Association, National Council of Jewish Women Austin, National Women’s Political Caucus Texas, and the Austin and Houston chapters of NOW. Major kudos to Austin NOW member and National Women’s Political Caucus-Texas President Rebecca Birch for organizing this great event!
It was especially wonderful to see such a diverse crowd – women, men, kids, older folks, young folks, people of color, people with disabilities, people of faith, Capitol staff, folks in business suits and folks in jeans and t-shirts… It really brought home that reproductive justice is everyone’s issue.
Some highlights from the rally:
- Travis County pols represent! State Reps. Donna Howard and Elliott Naishtat spoke, as did County Commissioner Sarah Eckhardt. Rep. Howard gave props to Texas’ own Sarah Weddington, who won Roe v. Wade when she was just 26. Commissioner Eckhardt talked about the need for continuing the conversation, talking to everyone we know. Rep. Naishtat, central Austin’s longtime representative, gave some great practical advice: go to the Capitol, spend a few minutes thanking the folks who fight with us, but spend a lot more time talking with and educating the folks who don’t. That’s how we win.
- Rev. Jim Rigby, local minister and progressive activist, noted that the men who yell about this and the women who stand in front of them never show up to yell for prenatal care or other supports for poor women and children.
- Heather Busby of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas talked about how many clinics have closed because of Gov. Perry and the legislature’s persistent cuts to family planning, and urged us to remember the woman working for minimum wage in far east or west Texas, counting her pennies for gas to make it to the nearest clinic, which now might be hundreds of miles away.
- Amanda Williams from Lilith Fund shared two stories of women who couldn’t afford abortions on their own but were able to with help from Lilith. Both those women wrote to Lilith with sincere thanks and news about them continuing their educations. She asked us to remember Gloria, remember Megan, and continue to fight for access to abortion.
- Amy Hagstrom Miller from Whole Woman’s Health speaking out as an abortion provider, urging us to end the stigma around it. Takeaway line: “Good people have abortions, and good people provide them.”
- Cindy Noland of Faith Action for Women in Need exhorted us to keep fighting, use our creativity, and be fierce, bold, and tireless!
Good stuff, right? And it was so energizing to see how many amazing activists we have here in Austin! It can be easy to feel alone in your beliefs, but here in the ATX, you have plenty of great company.
And this being Austin, after we packed everything up, a whole bunch of us went to Scholz’s for a late lunch. Feminism, beer, and barbecue – that’s my town.