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.