March 27: At the Capitol this Week

Last week, the U.S. House failed to vote on repealing the Affordable Care Act, including a provision to specifically block people with Medicaid coverage from accessing preventive health care at Planned Parenthood health centers. The House was forced to delay a vote on their reckless and extreme health care repeal bill because they couldn’t pass it as-is — but the fight isn’t over.

Yesterday, the Texas Senate approved a version of the state budget that includes a new provision intended to ban Planned Parenthood from participating in any and all taxpayer funded programs as well as any future programs.

Read below for the latest update and to take action to make sure that lawmakers know Texans stand with Planned Parenthood.

House State Affairs Committee to Hear Reproductive Health and Anti-LBGTQ Discrimination Bills

Today, the House State Affairs Committee will hear an anti-abortion bill, two bills that would increase access to contraception for minors, and one bill that would allow LGBTQ families to be discriminated against in the state’s child-welfare system.

HB 2962 by Rep. Capriglione would increase reporting requirements of abortion providers by requiring that abortion facilities provide extensive reports on complications from abortion. Abortion is an extremely safe, legal medical procedure with an extremely low complication rate. Moreover, Texas already has extensive reporting requirements, including unannounced inspections, and rigorous auditing practices. This bill is yet another attempt to shame women and abortion providers.

HB 3859 by Rep. James Frank would give religious groups license to use their faith as a reason to refuse to place foster children with gay couples or with families with certain religious beliefs. It could also block access to birth control or abortion services for teens, even when these services are in their best interests.

HB 330 by Rep. Mary González would allow minors 15 and older who are already parents to consent to their own medical examination and treatment relating to accessing birth control, other than emergency contraception.

HB 1373 by Rep. Sarah Davis is similar to HB 330, but takes a somewhat broader approach — allowing any unmarried minor, with no restriction on age, who is already a parent to consent to medical examination and treatment related to contraception, including emergency contraception.

AUSTIN: Attend the committee hearing in person and register your position on each of these bills.

House Committee on State Affairs
Wednesday, March 29
10:30am or upon final adjournment
John H. Reagan Building | 1400 Congress Ave., Room 140

ACTION: Call members of the House State Affairs Committee to tell them to vote NO on HB 2962 and HB 3859 and to vote YES on HB 330 and HB 1373.

State Affairs call graphic

Texas Senate Approves State Budget with Provisions to “Defund” Planned Parenthood

Yesterday, the Texas Senate approved their version of the biennial state budget for 2018 and 2019 that includes a provision by Sen. Kelly Hancock that is intended to ban Planned Parenthood from receiving any state funds and even from future programs that don’t yet exist. In addition, the budget continues $18 million in taxpayer funding to the “Alternatives to Abortion” program which funnels money to crisis pregnancy centers. These centers have no state oversight or accountability, do not provide health care, and are known to mislead and deceive women to coerce and pressure them about decisions regarding pregnancy. After the House approves its version of the budget in the coming weeks, members from both chambers will meet behind closed doors in a conference committee to negotiate a compromise.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

March 20: At the Texas Capitol This Week

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Last week at the Texas Capitol, several dangerous and discriminatory bills advanced through the legislative process. But each step of the way, activists showed up and fought back by testifying in committees, protesting, and calling their senators and representatives. More than 600 people signed up to speak on the anti-immigrant Senate Bill 4 and, of those, only 11 registered in support.

We are just getting started. Planned Parenthood supporters are standing defiant against attacks on our communities, and we’re not backing down. We’re in this for the long run.

LAST WEEK

Senate Approved 2 Anti-Abortion Bills

On Wednesday, the Texas Senate voted to approve two anti-abortion bills — Senate Bill 8 and Senate Bill 415. SB 8 and 415 ban the safest medical procedure for some patients and stand in the way of doctors’ ability to provide the safest care for their patients, even going so far as to dictate medical procedures that aren’t aligned with medical training and practice. SB 8 and SB 415, which received a final vote today, now move to the Texas House.

Discriminatory Bathroom Bill Moves Forward

On Wednesday, the Texas Senate passed SB 6, a bill by Sen. Lois Kolkhorst that would require transgender individuals to use bathrooms and locker rooms in schools and other government buildings that match the gender on their birth certificate. This bill only serves to shame and stigmatize the transgender community, and expose them to more harassment and harm. In her comments on the Senate floor, Sen. Kolkhorst attempted to justify her discriminatory bill as an effort to protect women–which could not be farther from the truth. This bill is also Trump extremist Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s top legislative priority this session.

Anti-Sanctuary Cities Bill Heard in the House

Senate Bill 4 by Charles Perry, an anti-sanctuary bill that would require Texas cities and counties to honor Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainers — meaning jails would have to hold undocumented immigrants at ICE’s request for the agency to potentially deport them, and withhold grant funding for noncompliance, had a public hearing in House State Affairs Committee on Wednesday.

WEEK AHEAD

Anti-Abortion Bills Pending Senate Debate

The Senate could take action on three other anti-abortion bills this week. SB 258 by Sen. Huffines, which forces patients to complete an invasive and medically unnecessary form, serves only to shame Texans seeking abortion and to further stigmatize medicine. SB 20 by Sen. Larry Taylor would ban public and private insurance companies, including those under the Affordable Care Act, from providing coverage for abortion except by supplemental policy. We don’t know exactly when these measures will come up for debate, but stay tuned for updates on these bills. SB 25 by Sen. Creighton eliminates the wrongful birth cause of action, which would sanction the ability of doctors to intentionally withhold vital information about a pregnancy from a patient. SB 25 passed the Senate on second reading today.

Anti-Abortion Bill Scheduled For Hearing Wednesday in House State Affairs

On Wednesday, House State Affairs Committee will hear testimony on HB 200 by Rep. Burkett. This bill, the companion to Sen. Schwertner’s SB 8 in the Senate, would ban the donation of fetal tissue from an abortion, as well as includes a copy of a method ban already illegal at the federal level. The bill relies on the widely discredited and deceptively edited videos purporting to show Planned Parenthood profiting from the sale of fetal tissue. A Republican led Congressional committee convened for the express purpose of investigating this allegation found no evidence of wrongdoing by Planned Parenthood, and separately, an AG investigation into a Planned Parenthood health center in Texas likewise returned no evidence of wrongdoing. Instead, extremist state officials turned the “investigation” into a highly politicized war against Planned Parenthood. Fetal tissue research has already led to a number of medical advancements, including the development of lifesaving vaccines for polio and rubella. Prohibiting the donation of or research using fetal tissue jeopardizes critical and life-saving medical research.

Renewal of State Budget Provisions to “Defund” Planned Parenthood

Both the Texas Senate and the House are expected to hold hearings this week to finalize their versions of the state budget. Preliminary budget documents show that both chambers have adopted measures targeting Planned Parenthood’s ability to provide health care. For example, both budgets continue previous riders barring Planned Parenthood from providing services through the Healthy Texas Women program and the state’s Breast and Cervical Cancer Services (BCCS) program. In addition, a new, broad rider by Sen. Kelly Hancock in the Senate budget seeks to bar Planned Parenthood from receiving any funding whatsoever.

Texans rally to tell Congress: Stop the attacks on Planned Parenthood

Tucked into the Affordable Care Act repeal bill is a dangerous provision blocking Medicaid patients from Planned Parenthood health centers nationwide. It’s the fight of our lives to protect access to care.

Last week, supporters joined us at emergency rallies across the state to tell our representatives in Congress that Texans stand with Planned Parenthood. In Texas, Planned Parenthood supporters protested at Rep. Roger Williams’ office in Austin, Rep. Kay Granger’s office in Fort Worth, Rep. Michael Burgess’ office in Lake Dallas, and Rep. Pete Sessions’ office in Dallas. We met many first-time volunteers and together sent the message loud and clear: Don’t attack Planned Parenthood.

Banning Planned Parenthood from receiving Medicaid reimbursement could cut 2.5 million patients across the country off from essential care, with devastating impacts on some of our most vulnerable communities. Act now and sign the petition telling your Congressman to stop this dangerous legislation.

Roger Williams rallyIMG_1664.JPGFB_IMG_148894924716017203154_10208384980532181_8327384534335209494_n

March 13: At the Texas Capitol This Week

Capitol protestToday is the first day that the Texas Senate can cast votes on issues that were not designated as emergencies by Gov. Greg Abbott. That means that the Senate– and Trump extremist Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick– assumes much more power in setting the legislative agenda.

Patrick’s priorities this session include passing an offensive transgender discrimination bill and the anti-immigrant bill that bans sanctuary cities. We stand alongside partner organizations and our supporters against this hateful agenda today and every day. We continue to fight for a legislature that works for all Texans.

Keep reading below for information on what’s happening in the week ahead and how you can take action.

CONGRESSIONAL ACTIONS

San Antonio Action: Health Care Bill Protest outside Will Hurd Fundraiser

Will Hurd will be attending a fundraiser for Lynie Wallace. Indivisible 23 is holding a protest outside this fundraiser to urge Will Hurd to vote No on the American Health Care Act, the new repeal and replace Obamacare bill.

  • When: Monday, March 13, 2017, 5:30pm – 7:00pm
  • Where: J-Prime Steakhouse, 1401 North Loop 1604 W, San Antonio, TX 78258, USA

Dallas Action: Pink Out Pete Session’s Townhall

Pete Sessions will be holding a congressional townhall this Saturday, March 18 beginning at 12:30pm. Planned Parenthood invites supporters to sign up and attend the townhall in pink, ready to ask Sessions tough questions about the Affordable Care Act repeal and reproductive healthcare. Contact Summer Lollie at Summer.Lollie@pptexasvotes.org to let her know you’ll be there!

  • When: Saturday, March 18, 2017 12:30pm
  • Where: Richardson High School, 1250 Belt Line Road, Richardson, TX 75080
Houston Action: Congressman John Culberson’s Town Hall

Join us at Congressman John Culberson’s Town Hall to let him know that taking away healthcare is unacceptable. RSVP to publicaffairs@ppgulfcoast.org for a Planned Parenthood T-shirt and button. Show up. Wear pink. Speak out!

  • When: Saturday, March 25, 2017, 3:00 pm- 4:30 pm
  • Where: Spring Branch Middle School Auditorium, 1000 Piney Point Rd. Houston, Texas 77024

LEGISLATIVE ACTIONS

3 Anti-Abortion Bills and Transgender Discrimination Bill Expected to be Debated on the Senate Floor

This week, the Texas Senate may hear three anti-abortion bills — SB 415, SB 8, and SB 258. SB 415 by Sen. Charles Perry would ban the safest, most common method of second trimester abortion, SB 258 by Sen. Don Huffines would require the burial or cremation of fetal tissue after an abortion, and SB 8 by Sen. Charles Schwertner would prohibit the donation of fetal tissue from abortion procedures to medical research, and includes a ban of a procedure already illegal at the federal level.

Senate Bill 6 by Sen. Lois Kolkhorst would require transgender people to use the bathroom corresponding with their biological sex in government buildings, public schools, and public universities, and preempt local nondiscrimination ordinances. Last week, Senate State Affairs Committee heard 13 hours of testimony primarily in opposition to this bill. Nevertheless, the Committee voted the bill out that very same night.

These four bills have all been placed on the Senate’s “Intent Calendar.” This means that the bills are eligible for consideration before the full Senate, and signals to the Lt. Governor the author’s intent to take up the bill. However, exactly when the bill will be considered is at the will of the Lt. Governor — the Senate’s rules do not provide for advanced notice on when a particular bill will be heard. We’ll keep you updated on opportunities for action.

Anti-Sanctuary Cities Bill Set For Hearing in the House
Wednesday, March 15 – Beginning at 10:30am or upon final adjournment/ recess
House State Affairs Committee – Room E2.036, Floor E2 of the Texas Capitol

Senate Bill 4 by Charles Perry, an anti-sanctuary bill that would require Texas cities and counties to honor Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainers — meaning jails would have to hold undocumented immigrants at ICE’s request for the agency to potentially deport them, and withhold grant funding for noncompliance, is scheduled for a public hearing in House State Affairs Committee on Wednesday, March 15 at 10:30am or upon adjournment of the House. Earlier this month, hundreds of people came to the Capitol to voice their opposition to this bill at a Senate committee hearing.

Wednesdays Committee Hearings and Reproductive Rights

Most bills related to reproductive rights are heard in the Senate Health & Human Services Committee and the House State Affairs Committee. The Senate Health & Human Services Committee meets on Wednesdays beginning at 8:30am. The agenda for this committee is posted at least 48 hours in advance of the hearing, typically on the Monday morning prior to the hearing.

The House State Affairs Committee meets on Wednesdays beginning at 10:30am or upon final adjournment of the House of Representative on that day, whichever is later. The agenda for this committee is posted at least five days before the hearing, typically on the Friday prior to  the hearing.

We will let you know as soon as we hear if any bills related to reproductive rights are scheduled for next week.

March 6: At the Texas Capitol This Week

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Activity at the Capitol has picked up this week. There are number of bills and advocacy opportunities we need you to take action on to help us fight for Texas women and reproductive rights.

LAST WEEK

THIS WEEK

  • On Monday, House Bill 228 by Rep. Senfronia Thompson will be heard in the House Business & Industry Committee. This bill would make it easier for women who have experienced wage discrimination on the basis of sex to fight back in state court. This bill was previously passed by Rep. Thompson and Sen. Wendy Davis in 2013, but was later vetoed by former Gov. Rick Perry.
  • On Tuesday, Senate Bill 6 by Sen. Kolkhorst, which discriminates against transgender people and would require them to use the bathroom corresponding with their biological sex in government buildings, public schools, and public universities, and preempt local nondiscrimination ordinances, will be heard in the Senate State Affairs Committee. This bill is a priority for Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, a Trump extremist, and he has attempted to use women’s safety as a guise for his hateful agenda.
  • On Wednesday, three bills relating to abortion and women’s health will be heard in two committees. PPTV is also hosting a community action forum from 6:30pm – 8:00pm in Austin for advocates to join us in strategizing how we will fight back against continued attacks on access to reproductive health care in Congress and in the Texas Legislature.

See below for detailed information about the committee hearings scheduled for next week. We have enormous strength when we stand together. Thank you for being in this fight with us!

COMMITTEE HEARINGS

Monday, March 6 – beginning at 11:00am
House Business & Industry Committee
Hearing Room E2.016, Floor E2 of the Texas Capitol

Tuesday, March 7 – beginning at 8:00am
Senate State Affairs Committee
Hearing Room E1.036, Floor E1 of the Texas Capitol

Wednesday, March 8 – beginning at 8:00am
Senate Health & Human Services Committee
Senate Chamber, Second Floor of the Texas Capitol

  • NEUTRAL: Senate Bill 139 permits health and human service agencies to share information regarding facility licensure across agencies. Currently, information sharing exists for 11 health license types. This bill adds 6 additional license types including ambulatory surgical centers and abortion facilities. Last session, we opposed the bill for targeting only abortion providers. This session, we are neutral as the bill extends to other medical facilities such as birthing centers, end stage renal centers, and narcotic drug rehabilitation centers and creates an equitable standard for various health care facilities.
  • FOR: Senate Bill 790 by Sen. Miles would allow for the continuation of the The Women’s Health Advisory Committee, which was established to advise the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) on consolidation of the state’s women’s health programs. The Committee provides much needed oversight from healthcare providers and experts to help ensure the program meets the needs of Texas women — a work in progress. This is the companion bill to HB 279 by Rep. Donna Howard heard last week in the House.
  • Senate Health & Human Service Committee Chair: Charles Schwertner (512) 463-0105
  • Committee Members
  • Committee Agenda

Wednesday, March 8 – beginning at 10:30am or upon final adjournment or recess
House State Affairs Committee
Hearing Room E2.036, Floor E2 of the Texas Capitol

  • AGAINST: As drafted, HB 201 by Byron Cook would require the burial or cremation of fetal tissue following an abortion. Last year, the state health department attempted to enact similar regulations through the rulemaking process, and those rules are currently being litigated by the Center for Reproductive Rights on behalf of several abortion providers. The most recent ruling in the case further delayed the implementation of the rules.
  • House State Affairs Committee Chair: Byron Cook (512) 463-0730
  • Committee Members
  • Committee Agenda

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Statement: Texas Senate Committee Approves 3 Anti-Abortion Bills

On March 1, the Texas Senate Committee on Health and Human Services approved three offensive, dangerous anti-abortion bills. The bills will now go to the full Senate for consideration.

Statement from Yvonne Gutierrez, Executive Director of Planned Parenthood Texas Votes on the passage of SB 8, SB 258, and SB 415 by the Senate Health & Human Services Committee

“These bills are not intended to protect the health and safety of Texans as the bill’s authors stated throughout the Senate Health and Human Services committee hearing. They are simply another attempt to chip away at access to safe, legal abortion. Extremist politicians are relying on false statements about abortion and scare tactics to justify their crusade. Texas politicians need to stop playing politics with women’s lives. Trust women to make their own reproductive health care decisions and respect the medical and ethical judgment of health care professionals. We will continue to fight for the reproductive health and rights of every Texan no matter what.”

 

#StopSB4: PPTV Against Attacks on Immigrant Communities

img_5117Yesterday, the Texas Senate State Affairs committee held a hearing on Sen. Charles Perry’s bill to strip state funding from local governments if county jails choose not to investigate the legal status of all people who come into their custody. If this bill were to become law, local law enforcement would have no discretion when it comes to detaining immigrants without documents.

This bill is motivated by the same hate and discrimination behind the Trump administration’s latest immigration directives. While the extreme politicians behind this legislation claim it will make communities safer, the effect is the opposite. The ability to live and thrive without fear is a basic human right.

Immigrants are a vital part of Texas and the Planned Parenthood community. They are patients, volunteers, activists, supporters, and staff. We here at Planned Parenthood Texas Votes attended the hearing to stand with our community partners against SB 4 and support our team members Blanca M., Development & Administrative Specialist, and Sadie H., Youth Organizer, who testified against the bill.

Testimony from Blanca M.:

“If SB4 had been in place when my mom was undocumented, instead of paying a fine for driving without a license, she would have been deported, leaving my siblings and I without our mom and affecting our livelihood. I’m thankful that was not the case and that she has been there to support and raise me and my siblings.

Today, you’ll be hearing many personal testimonies and well researched arguments from professionals who know that we can keep Texas safe without harmful bills like SB4. On top of listening to them, I also implore you to reflect and remember why you decided to become a public servant in the first place. I want to believe that you became a senator because you wanted to help Texans, and that includes immigrants.”

Testimony from Sadie H.:

“I’m not going to sit here and tell you what you already know. I am just here to tell you that you need to recognize that undocumented immigrants are people. We have to come here and defend our humanity? I am a human. My people are human–documented or not.”

Final Ruling on Texas Medicaid funding to come February 21

Just two days before the state was scheduled to drop Planned Parenthood health centers from the Texas Medicaid program, Judge Sam Sparks issued a temporary restraining order postponing a ruling until February 21. The restraining order ensures that the 11,000 patients Planned Parenthood health centers serve through the Medicaid program can continue to receive health care through their provider of choice–at least for the time being.

Here is what Yvonne Gutierrez, Executive Director of Planned Parenthood Texas Votes had to say in her official statement:

“We are grateful that the court has so far protected the 11,000 men, women and young people who could lose access to birth control, cancer screenings and other primary, preventive care at Planned Parenthood. Let’s be clear about what is at stake: We have seen what happens when the state “defunds” Planned Parenthood–people go without care. We will continue to do everything we can for the patients who rely on us and to fight for all Texans to have access to quality, safe, compassionate, and affordable health care.”pinkouttx_22

During the three day hearing, the state relied on thoroughly discredited, fraudulent videos to justify cutting women enrolled in the Medicaid program off from access to birth control, cancer screenings and STI testing at Planned Parenthood. Patient safety is a top priority at Planned Parenthood health centers and the state presented zero evidence to justify its politically motivated actions.

The state also claimed that there are other Medicaid providers who can meet the need for care currently provided by Planned Parenthood health centers, but we know from experience this isn’t true. A study published in the American Journal of Public Health found that the state’s family planning program served 54 percent fewer patients as a result of the 2011 budget cuts and tiered funding scheme that blocked access to care at Planned Parenthood health centers. Research by the Guttmacher Institute also shows that Planned Parenthood health centers are better able to deliver high-quality, timely contraceptive care to more women than other types of publicly funded family planning providers.

More than half of Planned Parenthood’s health centers are in underserved patient communities, meaning that often without Planned Parenthood, patients would have nowhere else to turn for reproductive health care. Blocking patients from care has a disproportionate impact on those who already face far too many barriers to health care as people of color, people who live in rural areas, or people with low incomes. The state’s attempt to exclude Planned Parenthood from the family planning safety net disregards the facts and would have devastating consequences on women and families.

Join us at demonstrations across Texas!

This week, while thousands gather for the Women’s March on Washington, activists across the country are holding inauguration demonstrations of their own. Anti-women’s health legislators at both the state and federal level are working to take away our health care and erode reproductive rights. They need to hear from you now.

Below is a list of events taking place in Texas. Join us, community advocates and partner organizations on the front lines as we march for rights and justice! Now is the time to show up and show our strength.

AUSTIN

Jan. 20 One Resistance Rally and Protest

Jan. 21 Women’s March on Austin

Jan. 22 Roe v. Wade Celebration Rally

BROWNSVILLE

Jan. 21 Women’s March on Brownsville

DALLAS

Jan. 18 Our Bodies Our Live

Jan. 20 Inauguration Rally and March

Jan. 21 Women’s Rally & Mega Phone Bank

EL PASO

Jan. 21 Somos Una+We Are One

Jan. 21 Women’s March on the Border

FORT WORTH

Jan. 21 Women’s March-Fort Worth

HOUSTON

Jan. 20 Counter Inauguration Day Rally

Jan. 21 Houston Women’s March

MCALLEN

Jan 21. RGV For Reproductive Rights

SAN ANTONIO

Jan. 21 SA Women March Against Hate

Jan. 22 Roe v. Wade Anniversary Brunch

WACO

Jan. 20 United Against Trump: Inaugural Protest

Jessica’s Letter to Texas Legislators: These Choices Need to be Left to Families

At a hearing yesterday on the proposed rule requiring the cremation or burial of fetal remains, including in the instance of miscarriage, U.S. District Court Judge Sam Sparks delayed the start date for implementation of the rule until his final ruling on January 27.

When the Texas Department of State Health Services first proposed the rule, we asked you to write to the state calling this out for what it is — a politically motivated exercise in shaming and stigmatizing women for their decisions around pregnancy and abortion. The flood of letters we received in response were personal, powerful and clear: Texans overwhelmingly support a person’s right to make their own decisions about abortion and will not stand for these attacks.

Jessica’s story is a testament to the strength of Texas women and demonstrates that, ultimately, decisions about pregnancy should be left to a woman and her family. As we wait for the Jan. 27 ruling, we want to remind public officials that Planned Parenthood health centers are open to every person, offering nonjudgmental care that honors the variety and complexity of each individual experience. No matter what.

“When I lost my first daughter to Turner Syndrome at an 11-week gestation miscarriage, my heart was broken. My husband and I had planned my pregnancy and wanted Helen more than anything in the world. When her heart stopped and my body did not naturally miscarry, I was given the option of a D&C. This procedure is the same procedure used for abortions and I was grateful we had it as a choice. Having the D&C allowed us to easily have our baby cremated, by choice. There are many families who experience losses who do not choose cremation or burial, but in Texas we were allowed to make the choice. Such intimate choices need to be left to families, not forced upon them by law. Mandating that human remains from abortions be buried or cremated will have unintentional, detrimental effects on families who experience miscarriages and stillbirths.

Many ‘pro-life’ lawmakers either ignore or are ignorant to the effects their pandering and outrageous legislation have on families like mine, who experienced pregnancy loss. There are parallels between abortion and loss that many people refuse to discuss. The most important theme in our grief that helped us through our loss, was a deep respect and honor for every choice we made along the way. We had choices, we were heard and we were met with nonjudgmental support from every nurse, doctor, pathologist and funeral home attendant. My daughter’s ashes now stay beside my bed, because I was given a choice. I now have a daughter, and I cannot imagine her growing up having less choices than I had. If this legislation passes, my fears will be reality. Every woman has a right to bodily autonomy, her own reproductive choices and protection from punitive legislation that takes her rightful choices from her.

To honor Helen’s memory and to protect my living daughter, I will not support legislation of this heinous nature and I will not vote for any politician in Texas who thinks they know better than I do about what is best for my body and my family.”