Meet the men leading the attacks on women’s health in Texas

This legislative session, extreme politicians aggressively attacked reproductive health and rights — led by two men who want to impose their regressive views and judge what’s best for women.

Rep. Matt Rinaldi (R-Farmers Branch) made headlines on Monday when, in response to protesters filling the House gallery in opposition to the racist “show me your papers” bill SB 4, he approached a group of Latino lawmakers to brag that he had called Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on the “illegal immigrants.” Chaos ensued on the House floor, and Rep. Rinaldi went so far as to threaten to “put a bullet” in another lawmaker’s head.

Before that shameful showing, Rep. Rinaldi — who the anti-abortion group Texas Right to Life have called the “pro-life whip” — has made himself known for prioritizing and promoting legislation that hurts women and restricts their access to reproductive and even basic health care. He is behind the far-reaching state budget amendment that bans Planned Parenthood health centers from receiving any state funds whatsoever. During House debate on HB 3771, which was intended to exclude abortion procedures in the case an ectopic pregnancy from the numerous abortion restrictions currently in place, Rep. Rinaldi also amended the bill to include a damaging and medically inaccurate definition of abortion.

Meanwhile, Rep. Matt Schaefer (R-Tyler) is personally responsible for three of the 39 anti-abortion bills introduced this session, including one that would have required patients to carry non-viable pregnancies to term. While the House was debating HB 2962 — a bill that would have increased already robust reporting requirements on abortion complications — Rep. Schaefer proposed an alarmingly invasive amendment that would require women who experience an abortion complication to disclose their marital status and last menstrual period to be recorded in a state database, among other personal information. He also joined Rep. Jonathan Stickland (R-Bedford) in harassing female parliamentarian, Shalla Slutyer, on the House floor last week, pressing her to smile for the male legislators. After feeding Rep. Stickland the suggestion to ask the parliamentarian to “smile for us,” Rep. Schaefer can be seen off to the side cackling at his own repugnant “joke.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s clear that these legislators will stop at nothing to ban safe, legal abortion — no matter the devastating consequences to those they represent. Rep. Schaefer and Rep. Rinaldi are dangerous for Texas women. We need leaders who will defend a woman’s right to make her own medical decisions, and who will protect access to basic  health care.

85th Legislative Session Wrap-up: Texas Fails Women Once Again

Monday was the last day of the 85th Texas Legislative Session and once again extreme legislators demonstrated a total disregard for the health and wellbeing of Texas women. In total, lawmakers filed nearly 40 anti-abortion regulations — several of which passed under the now multi-part Senate Bill (SB) 8. The 2018-2019 budget continues to block patients from accessing care at Planned Parenthood through  state health programs and goes even further to cut Planned Parenthood off from all state funding — period.

While extremists were able to claim several victories off the backs of women who will now face further obstacles to getting reproductive health care, our women’s health champions in the legislature were able to defeat a number of cruel and unnecessary bills.

BILLS PASSED

SB 8 is the most significant and restrictive anti-abortion regulation since 2013, when the Texas Legislature passed HB 2 — the law struck down by the Supreme Court just last summer. The bill, by Sen. Charles Schwertner (R-Georgetown), started as a ban on the donation of fetal tissue for medical research and on an abortion method already illegal at the federal level. After six-hours of debate on the House floor during which extreme legislators piled on further restrictions, SB 8 grew into a dangerous and cruel multi-part bill. The bill now also requires fetal tissue from an abortion procedure to be buried or cremated, even if the patient’s health was at risk or she was a victim of rape or incest and bans the safest, most common method for second trimester abortion. While the vast majority of abortion procedures take place in the first trimester, some health risks to pregnant women may not become apparent early in pregnancy and identification of fetal anomalies most often occur during the second trimester. Banning the safest method for these abortions forces doctors to resort to alternatives that may not be what they, based on their professional judgment, think is best for their patient. SB 8 imposes an excessive burden on patients seeking access to safe, legal abortion and similar provisions have already been challenged in court. In anticipation of a ruling against the constitutionality of SB 8, lawmakers included a “severability” clause that will keep the rest of the bill intact if any one piece is struck down by the courts.

HB 2858 by Rep. DeWayne Burns (R-Cleburne), requiring abortion facilities to post human trafficking signage, passed as an amendment to HB 2552. Planned Parenthood supports requiring all health care facilities in Texas to be trained to identify human trafficking and intimate partner violence. However, this amendment singles out abortion providers and further stigmatizes abortion. Human trafficking experts say that victims are likely to be intercepted in emergency rooms, doctors offices, and even dentist offices and a genuine effort to help victims would include a variety of health care providers. Meanwhile, lawmakers opted to cut funding from sex trafficking victims’ services out of the state budget.

SB 1, or the state budget for 2018-2019, continues to block low-income women from accessing care at Planned Parenthood through the Healthy Texas Women and Breast and Cervical Cancer Services programs because some health centers also provide abortion services. Rep. Drew Springer (R-Muenster) and Rep. Matt Rinaldi (R-Irving) went even further by adding  a budget rider that prevents Planned Parenthood from receiving any state funds whatsoever, threatening health centers’ ability to provide critical health care and education to communities in need. At the same time, the budget allocates up to $38,300,000 for the Alternatives to Abortion program, which funnels money to crisis pregnancy centers known to mislead and deceive women in an attempt to coerce women against having an abortion. Crisis pregnancy centers generally provide no health care services at all.

BILLS DEFEATED

SB 20 by Sen. Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood) would have banned insurance companies from providing abortion coverage in private health plans and those available through the Affordable Care Act. This bill made no exceptions for rape, incest, or fetal abnormality, and explicitly put women’s health and wellbeing at risk by not allowing a person to insure themselves for all emergency situations.

SB 25 by Sen. Brandon Creighton (R – Conroe) would have allowed doctors to withhold vital information from a patient about her own pregnancy by taking away the patient’s legal recourse. This bill was nothing more than yet another attempt by anti-abortion activists to chip away at the already narrow exception for fetal abnormalities.

HB 2962 by Rep. Giovanni Capriglione (R-Southlake) would have required additional extensive reporting related to abortion complications despite the fact that abortion is one of the safest medical procedures performed in the United States and that Texas already has robust reporting systems in place. An alarmingly invasive amendment proposed to the bill during floor debate would have required women who experience an abortion complication to disclose their marital status, last menstrual period, and other personal information to be recorded in a state database.

A number of proactive women’s health bills also died before the deadline this session. HB 745 by Rep. Jessica Farrar (D-Houston) would have eliminated the mandatory 24-hour waiting period before a patient can have an abortion. HB 1373 by Rep. Sarah Davis (R-Houston) would have allowed minors who are already parents to access birth control without parental consent.

Years of hostile policies have already left tens of thousands of Texas women without access to cancer screenings, birth control, and safe, legal abortion. Together, we keep fighting for a legislature that will work for health care access for all Texans.

Patients and Advocates Close Out 1,000 Mile Planned Parenthood Road Trip to Speak Against Hostile Policies

Austin, TX – Today, Planned Parenthood patients and advocates are closing out a four day, 1,000 mile road trip across the state to bring attention to the devastating, real life impact of the continued attacks on access to reproductive health care and Planned Parenthood. This last stop of the tour is especially relevant. Yesterday, in an unprecedented maneuver, Texas politicians redrafted the approved conference committee report  specifically attacking access to care at Planned Parenthood. Patients and advocates will be at the Capitol in Austin speaking out about these attacks on access to care at Planned Parenthood.

“Texas politicians once again targeted women’s access to health care at Planned Parenthood. Texas has attacked women’s health care every way they can think of and they are not done. Women in Texas are already suffering and dying because of the state’s callous disregard for their health and well-being,” said Yvonne Gutierrez, Executive Director of Planned Parenthood Texas Votes. “The people who pay the the price for these backroom deals are young women, women of color, those who live in rural areas, and women with low incomes – who already face barriers to health care. Texas lawmakers should be working to fix the damage they’ve caused and expand women’s access to quality, affordable health care and providers like Planned Parenthood.”

Over the past four days, patients and advocates have traveled to 11 cities — Brownsville, McAllen, San Antonio, Round Rock, Waco, Dallas, Tyler, Lufkin, Houston, Sugar Land and now Austin — to deliver petitions to legislators and visit various Planned Parenthood health centers. They spoke with patients, providers and advocates and via Facebook Live captured and told their firsthand stories about why they stand with Planned Parenthood.

WHAT:
#StandWithPPTX Tour: 1,000 Miles for Women’s Health
Patient story interviews and advocates taking action against hostile health policies

WHEN:
4:30 p.m., Thursday, May 25, 2017

WHERE:
South Gate of the Capitol, 1100 Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78701 (Intersection of 11th St. & Congress Ave.)
WATCH ON FACEBOOK LIVE

Years of hostile policies have already left tens of thousands of Texas women without access to cancer screenings, birth control, HIV tests and other preventive care. After the state cut off access to Planned Parenthood health centers in 2011, the state’s own numbers show that two years later, nearly 30,000 fewer women received birth control, cancer screenings, and other care as a result. And, a recent study found that 35% fewer women obtained the most effective forms of birth control and that there was a 27% increase in births among women who had previously accessed injectible contraception.

The state is currently seeking federal approval and funding for its ill-fated family planning program, Healthy Texas Women. This is a program created specifically to block access to care at Planned Parenthood that, by every measure, has failed to fill the tremendous unmet need for healthcare. On Saturday, a 10-member legislative committee approved a version of the 2018-2019 budget that prevents Planned Parenthood from receiving any federal or state funding from any current or future programs.

Planned Parenthood is one of Texas’ most trusted providers of reproductive health and family planning services, including breast and cervical cancer screenings. Most Planned Parenthood patients are uninsured or underinsured, live paycheck to paycheck, and pay out of pocket for their health care.

Planned Parenthood supporters are sending a message to politicians that it is past time to get serious about helping Texans access quality, affordable health care and allow Planned Parenthood health centers to fully participate in Texas’ health safety net.

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Planned Parenthood Texas Votes (PPTV) is the nonpartisan policy, advocacy and political arm for the Planned Parenthood affiliates in Texas.

PPTV is hiring! Be our next Youth Organizer (Intern) in San Antonio

POSITION: Temporary, part-time (10 to 25 hours per week)

REPORTS TO: San Antonio Community Organizer

LOCATION: San Antonio

DURATION: June 2017 – December 2017

Planned Parenthood Texas Votes (PPTV) is the statewide advocacy arm of Planned Parenthood affiliates in Texas that engages supporters of reproductive health to fight to protect and expand women’s access to preventative and reproductive healthcare, including abortion. The work at PPTV is fast paced and deals with complex and high priority matters related to the electoral and legislative politics of women’s health in Texas. Our programs range from talking to voters about the politics of abortion to advocating to protect state funding for breast cancer screenings.

The Youth Organizer will lead campus and community outreach activities to engage young people in the fight for reproductive health in Texas, including recruiting new supporters, engaging volunteers, executing effective issue and voter education campaigns, and hosting campus events.

Key Responsibilities

  • Recruit students and young people to support Planned Parenthood and access to reproductive healthcare through campus and community events and actions, including tabling, crowd canvassing, and phonebanking.
  • Promote engagement of existing supporters and development of volunteers through organized events and actions on and off campus, including participating in and leading trainings and facilitating meetings.
  • Build meaningful relationships and partners with campus organizations to further reproductive justice initiatives on campus.
  • Attend local community events and organizational meetings on behalf of Planned Parenthood, as requested.
  • Coordinate with Community Organizer on broader Planned Parenthood events, orientations, advocacy actions and trainings, as needed
  • Additional responsibilities, as needed.

Qualifications

  • Currently enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate program at the University of Texas at San Antonio.
  • Three months of consistent volunteer experience with Planned Parenthood or another progressive organization.
  • Ability to function in a fast paced work environment and manage multiple tasks.
  • Working knowledge of Google Docs, Microsoft Office Suite, and other technical tools.
  • Previous participation with PP Generation, Youth Organizing & Policy Institute (YOPI), Student Leadership & Advocacy Meeting (SLAM), and other Planned Parenthood youth activities preferred, but not required.
  • Political and/or issue campaign experience preferred, but not required.

Personal Qualities/Other Attributes

  • Deep appreciation for mission of Planned Parenthood and reproductive justice.
  • Interest in Texas politics and political advocacy.
  • Enjoys operating in a fast-paced environment; a nimble and flexible work style.
  • A direct and open interpersonal communication style; a smart and confident leader.

Training

As a Youth Organizer, you will participate in regional, state, and national trainings run by experienced Planned Parenthood staff.  All Youth Organizers are required to attend the Texas Youth Power Summit that will be held in Austin, August 4-6.  This training will supplement the valuable skills and experience you gain on your campus and in your community.

Compensation

This position is paid hourly at a rate of $10.00 per hour.

How to Apply

To apply, send a one-page resume, cover letter of 500 words or less, and three references to sanantonio@pptexasvotes.org.

  • Each document should be a separate attachment; all attachments should be saved in PDF format and named in the format of “Last Name, First Name – Document Name”.
  • Cover letters included in the body of the email will not be accepted.
  • References from employment, academic and volunteer experience are acceptable.
  • Please indicate “Youth Organizer – San Antonio” in the email subject line.
  • All applications must be received by Friday, June 2, 2017.

Equal employment opportunity and having a diverse staff are fundamental to our success at PPTV.  Employment opportunities are based on an individual’s capabilities and qualifications without regard to race, color, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, disability, or any other protected characteristic as established under the law.

Hit the road with us for #StandWithPPTX Tour: 1,000 Miles for Women’s Health

Planned Parenthood health centers play a critical role in the lives of more than 100,000  Texans by providing lifesaving cancer screenings, STD testing and treatment, and affordable birth control—services extreme politicians in the Texas Legislature are intent on wiping out.

Watch the powerful film by Joss Whedon that depicts what the world would look like if attempts to shut down Planned Parenthood succeed.

Attacks on reproductive health and rights are dangerous. Yesterday, the Texas House passed the most restrictive anti-abortion bill since HB 2, the law struck down by the Supreme Court just last summer. The state is currently seeking federal approval and funding for its ill-fated family planning program, Healthy Texas Women. This is a program created specifically to block access to care at Planned Parenthood that, by every measure, has failed to fill the tremendous unmet need for healthcare.

While extreme legislators are reckless with our health and safety, it’s Texas women and families that suffer the tangible, devastating consequences. That’s why we are embarking on a 1,000 mile road trip across the state to capture and tell the firsthand stories of Planned Parenthood patients and advocates in Texas.

Join us on Facebook at 9 a.m. on Monday, when we go live from the road. The stakes could not be higher in the fight for reproductive health and rights. We’re fighting for our health, and for our lives.

May 1: At the Capitol This Week

For more than 100 years, May 1st has been about fighting for the rights of workers and immigrants. This May Day, Planned Parenthood is proud to stand in solidarity with our allies to protect the lives, health, and safety of all people in Texas. Planned Parenthood activists and supporters joined in a sit-in outside of Governor Greg Abbott’s Austin office today to demand that he veto the hateful ‘show me your papers” bill, SB 4. We know what happens when communities who already face barriers to accessing care are driven further into the shadows – they will forsake the care they need to preserve their own safety and economic security for their families. Together, we keep fighting so that all Texans can live free from discrimination.

Legislative committee hears bill to ban abortion coverage in health plans

On Wednesday, House State Affairs will hear HB 1113 by Rep. John Smithee (R-Amarillo). This is the companion bill to SB 20 by Sen. Larry Taylor (R- League City), which seeks to ban insurance companies from providing abortion coverage in private health plans and those available through the Affordable Care Act. This bill makes no exceptions for rape, incest, or fetal abnormality, and explicitly puts women’s health and wellbeing at risk by not allowing a person to insure themselves for all emergency situations. Restricting insurance coverage for abortion jeopardizes the health and safety of Texans and disproportionately impacts low-income Texans, obstructing their access to health care.

April 24: At the Capitol This Week

lobby day (1)

There is a little over one month left of the legislative session, which means our state lawmakers will spend more time  on the House and Senate floors to pass more legislation in the coming weeks than in the preceding five months combined. Our top priorities continue to be to prevent state efforts to bar Planned Parenthood health centers from providing health care services to Texans, and to stop dangerous anti-abortion bills from advancing to the floor. We are working with our allies in both chambers to defend reproductive health and rights. Please read below for details on legislative activity this week and how to take action.

Fight back against a state budget that threatens the health of Texas women and families

 The Texas House and Senate have both proposed versions of the 2018-2019 state budget that include new provisions that further attack access to care at Planned Parenthood health centers. Both the House and Senate versions of the budget would continue to prevent Planned Parenthood from participating in the state’s Healthy Texas Women and Breast and Cervical Cancer Services programs. One far-reaching budget-wide amendment by Representatives Drew Springer (R-Gainesville) and Matt Rinaldi (R-Irving) goes even further by banning any and all state funding to Planned Parenthood.

Now, a Conference Committee of ten appointed legislators will work to reconcile a single version of the state budget before it can receive final approval from the full legislature. The conference committee process is one of the very last opportunities to remove these new provisions that further prevent Planned Parenthood from participating in state programs. Politicians in Texas have targeted access to health care for Planned Parenthood’s patients again and again and it’s women and families that continue to suffer the devastating consequences.

Stop 5 anti-abortion bills from advancing to a vote by the full House

Five anti-abortion bills have been passed by House State Affairs Committee and now it’s up to the Texas House Calendars Committee whether or not they advance to the full House of Representatives for a vote. Send committee members a message now, asking them to stop these attacks on Texans’ reproductive rights today.

House Debates Anti-Immigrant Sanctuary Cities Ban on Wednesday

On Wednesday, the Texas House will debate its version of the anti-immigrant sanctuary cities ban bill by Rep. Charlie Geren (R-River Oaks [outside Ft. Worth]). The House version, like SB 4 in the Senate, would ban cities from adopting sanctuary policies that prevent law enforcement from inquiring about immigration status or enforcing immigration law. Unlike the Senate version, the House bill does not include a provision that would cut state funding to entities that do not enforce national immigration law, and stipulates that an officer cannot ask about immigration status until after a suspect is arrested.

Rep. Victoria Neave (D-Dallas) is taking a stand against this discriminatory bill by leading a fast that began Sunday and will last until Wednesday — the day the House plans to debate the legislation. Click here to learn how to join Rep. Neave in fasting in opposition to legislation that will destroy families and communities.

Early Voting For Local Elections is April 24-May 2

 

GOTV_pptvEarly voting for local elections begins on Monday, April 24 and runs through Tuesday, May 2. Election day is May 6. The fight against the relentless attacks on women’s health takes place at the ballot box every election. Make a plan now to #PinkOutTheVote!

Check Your Voter Status: Use this tool to find your voter registration status and polling place information. To start, pick a selection criteria from the drop down box on the right. 

Planned Parenthood Texas Votes asked candidates to let us know where they stand on health care access and reproductive rights. The following candidates rated 100% on their commitment to women’s health issues:

Pasadena

  • Cody Wheeler – City Council, District E
  • April Lance – City Council, District H

San Antonio

  • Napoleon Madrid – Mayor
  • Ron Nirenberg – Mayor
  • John Martin Velasquez – Mayor
  • Melissa Cabello Havrda – City Council, District 6
  • Lon Jett IV – City Council, District 10

Find Your Polling LocationUse this tool to find your voter registration status and polling place information. To start, pick a selection criteria from the drop down box on the right.

During early voting, from Monday, April 24 through Tuesday, May 2, registered voters may vote at ANY early voting location located in their county of residence.

San Antonio

Dallas

Plano

Pasadena

Round Rock

Humble

**Find information for your city here**

 

Statement: House State Affairs Committee Approves Four Bills to Push Abortion Further Out of Reach for Texans

Yesterday, the House State Affairs Committee voted to approve four additional bills that are nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt to ban abortion. House bills 35, 200, 2962, and 1936 unnecessarily target an extremely safe, legal medical procedure and hurt women and their families.

Statement from Yvonne Gutierrez, Executive Director, Planned Parenthood Texas Votes:
“These bills are just the latest in a relentless wave of legislation aimed at chipping away at the right to safe, legal abortion. They do nothing to improve the health and safety of women, and the politicians behind them have only one objective: To push their extreme agenda onto Texans who don’t want or support these dangerous policies. Politicians have no right to control the lives of women and their families and should turn their attention to helping Texans access quality, affordable health care.”

April 17: At the Capitol this Week

protest abbott

Last Thursday, President Trump signed into law a repeal of the Obama administration’s rule that prevented states from blocking access to preventive care at a health center just because its organization also provides safe, legal abortion. The move will embolden states to try to block access to affordable family planning services through Title X, both at Planned Parenthood health centers and independent clinics.

Extreme politicians in Texas are more than willing to take away access to birth control and cancer screenings, as they have proven time and time again. The blatant attacks on reproductive health and rights here at home and on the national level are all part of the same extreme agenda: to ban abortion no matter the consequences to the health and wellbeing of everyday people.

In the face of these attacks, we continue to fight for the long haul. We felt the power of our movement in the sea of pink outside the Texas Capitol on Lobby Day. Let’s carry that feeling forward for the road ahead.

LAST WEEK

Bill Allowing Doctors to Lie to their Patients Without Consequence Moves Forward

On Wednesday, the House State Affairs Committee approved HB 434 by Rep. Ron Simmons (R-Denton), which allows doctors to lie to their patients without consequence and threatens a woman’s ability to make fully informed decisions about her pregnancy. HB 434 will eliminate the “wrongful birth” cause of action and take legal recourse away from a woman for whom vital information about her pregnancy was withheld. Now it’s up to the Texas House Calendars Committee whether this bill advances to the full House of Representatives for a vote.

In the Texas House, after a bill is approved by committee, it must overcome another major hurdle before becoming law or being sent to the Senate: The House Committee on Calendars, chaired by Rep. Todd Hunter (R-Corpus Christi), must set a bill for consideration on the Daily House Calendar. The committee operates largely behind closed doors, though members of the public can attend official meetings in person. However, meetings are often sporadic and announced from the floor with little notice. Though not by official rule, members of this committee can “tag” bills in an attempt to delay or sometimes prevent them from coming to the floor. The House Calendars committee has the power to  effectively kill the legislation — making it a very important committee, and one where you want to have allies.

Several anti-abortion bills are still pending in the House Committee on State Affairs, and could be brought up for a vote at any time, at which time they will be sent to the Calendars Committee. Pending legislation includes HB 35 by Rep. Byron Cook (R-Corsicana), which requires the burial or cremation of fetal tissue, HB 200 by Rep. Cindy Burkett (R-Garland) that bans the donation of fetal tissue for scientific research, and HB 2962 by Rep. Giovanni Capriglione (R-Keller) that requires additional extensive  reporting related to abortion complications by licensed abortion facilities.

THIS WEEK

Committee Considers Marlise’s Law

On Wednesday, House State Affairs will hear HB 439 by Rep. Nicole Collier (R-Ft. Worth). This bill, known as Marlise’s Law, would empower families of pregnant patients to make end-of-life care decisions for a family member who is terminally ill. At 14 weeks pregnant, Marlise Muñoz suffered a pulmonary embolism that left her brain dead. Over the objections of her family, Marlise’s previously declared wishes to be taken off life support in such a situation were not honored when the hospital determined she was pregnant. In Texas, the law requires that a pregnant woman continue to be given medical treatment, even if it cannot help her or her fetus. Marlise was kept on life support for 62 days while her family fought the hospital’s decision in court, all the while being forced to watch her condition deteriorate. Marlise’s Law seeks to make sure no other family has to go through this family’s experience.

Hearing Set for Transgender Discrimination Bill

House State Affairs will also hear HB 2899 by Rep. Ron Simmons (R-Denton), which would ban municipalities and school districts from enforcing ordinances, orders, or other measures that protect transgender Texans from discrimination when using restrooms or changing facilities that correspond with their gender identity. This bill is being promoted as an alternative to SB 6 by some lawmakers, but remains discriminatory and dangerous.