Eleven advocacy groups, including the ACLU of Texas and NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, announced Wednesday a joint effort to protect and promote reproductive health care options, including access to abortion, birth control and comprehensive sex education.
The effort includes support for legislation, including ending the 24-hour waiting period before abortions and eliminating what doctors call misinformation in documents provided to abortion patients, that have been dead on arrival in previous legislative sessions.
But the coalition also supports a broader range of family and economic justice issues, including House Bill 656 by state Rep. Ina Minjarez, D-San Antonio, which would extend paid family leave to care for sick family members, a newborn or newly arrived foster or adopted child.
The coalition also announced support for House Bill 742 by Jessica Farrar, D-Houston, which would protect access to facilities by breastfeeding mothers; and House Bill 222 by state Rep. Donna Howard, D-Austin, to make contraceptives available to children under age 18, with parental consent, under the Children’s Health Insurance Program for low-income Texans, to help curb the state’s highest-in-the-nation rate of repeat teen pregnancies.
Beyond the legislative session, the effort — known as “Trust. Respect. Access” — will include a yearslong coordinated campaign to take advantage of a “tremendous increase in activism across Texas — an unprecedented level of civic engagement and outrage at the current state of affairs,” said Heather Busby with NARAL Pro-Choice Texas.
“Already, nearly 20 anti-abortion measures have been filed in the Texas Legislature,” Busby said. “Our anti-abortion state leadership and legislators, emboldened by the recent election, have proven once again that they will stop at nothing to restrict access to abortion care for Texans.”
Emily Horne, with Texas Right to Life, said there was little likelihood of legislative approval for abortion-rights legislation.
“I think we have a lot of pro-life legislators who are going to vote against them. I think we pretty much have the same numbers as last session,” Horne said.
Legislation to protect families and encourage breastfeeding, however, could gain widespread support, Horne said. “If they are willing to separate some of those from this constant call for abortion, they might see more of those things pass,” she said.
The coalition also includes Jane’s Due Process, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, Planned Parenthood Texas Votes, Progress Texas, Texas Freedom Network, Afiya Center, Whole Woman’s Health, which operates three abortion clinics in Texas, and two organizations that help low-income women pay for abortions: Lilith Fund for Reproductive Equity and Texas Equal Access Fund.