Wednesday, July 3, 2013

My Prepared (Unheard) Testimony for HB2

Last night the House Committee on State Affairs held a public hearing on SB2, an omnibus abortion bill introduced in the second special legislative session called by Governor Perry.  Over 3,000 people came to the capitol to attend the hearing.  Over 1,000 people signed up to give testimony.  Only 90 were heard.  I was among those who wanted to testify, but were never called.  This is the testimony I had prepared.

This is the third committee hearing I’ve been to. Between these hearings and Senator Davis’s filibuster last week, I have heard hundreds of very personal stories relating to abortion access. Many are heart-wrenching. And it’s not just the pro-choice stories I’ve heard that have been heart-wrenching. I’ve also been touched by the stories of anti-choice women and couples who have struggled with the decision of whether to have an abortion. I salute the bravery of all the people who have come before their legislators and spoken from their hearts, oftentimes sharing intimately personal accounts.

One theme that I have noticed running through all these narratives, of the ways in which abortion has touched these many lives, is the theme of choice. Some anti-choice citizens have regretted their decision to have an abortion, but what was significant was that they had the choice. Since when is it the government’s job to protect us from making regrettable decisions? Should we only be free to make decisions that could not lead to regret? Not to mention that these accounts do not consider all the women who have had abortions who do not regret their decision. Indeed, every friend and family member I have spoken to who has had an abortion does not regret her decision.

Other anti-choice citizens have testified to standing by their decision not to abort their fetus that suffered from a fatal abnormality, but again - why should that mean that other women should be forced to carry their dying fetuses to term? The problem with the anti-choice arguments is their extrapolation. The logic just doesn’t follow. If you don’t like abortion, don’t have one. But don’t tell me I can’t have one.

The logic of this legislation doesn’t follow in other places too. You tell us that this legislation is in the interest of women’s health, but we’ve heard from countless doctors and medical organizations that these laws will in fact jeopardize women’s health and even lives. You tell us that fetuses feel pain at 20 weeks, but we’ve heard from the American Medical Association that pain perception does not function before the third trimester. You say you want to reduce the number of abortions in Texas, but we know that limiting access to abortion does not mean fewer abortions, it means fewer legal abortions, and more dangerous ones.

We all know that this legislation is not based on logic, but on dogma. But in our country we have our Constitution that gives us the freedom of religion, and also the freedom from religion. I am sick of coming here, defending my body from your dogma. It’s insulting to hear you say that you are looking out for women’s health. I don’t believe you. Stop using my body as the pretext for these bills that are based on a religion that is not my own. Keep your dogma to your bedrooms, to your bodies, to your churches. It doesn’t belong in these bills, and it certainly does not belong in my uterus.