Texas passed its omnibus anti-choice legislation one week ago by a vote of 19-11 in the State Senate. This last Thursday Governor Rick Perry (R) signed it.
At the same time the US House approved a farm bill without funding food stamps by a vote of 216-208. The debate was heated with Democrats accusing Republicans of dismissing low income Americans while Republicans did what they could do stifle vocal opposition.
These two polices passed by Republicans at the state level in Texas and the national level are summed up by Rachel Maddow's quote in her analysis of President Obama's re-election speech as she was commenting about what the real political divisions in this country are.
The biggest political divide in this country is not between Democrats and Republicans, it's between who care and people who don't.
Republicans do not care about the rest of their constituents.
They only care about those that participate in the Republican Primary and those that fund their campaigns.
My State Rep, State Senator, US House Member, and US Senators do not care about me. I didn't vote for them, but I expect that they would hear me out because they were elected to represent me. Honestly, they don't represent the interests of me or my friends that fall into the same category as me.
I reached that conclusion during the Texas Senate's HB 2 debate.
During the debate, Senate Democrats offered 20 amendments to try to lessen the blow of the proposed legislation and back to the House for reconsideration. Among those amendments were restoring funding to the cuts to family planning services and education that happened in the 82nd session to teaching age appropriate comprehensive sex education to Senator Wendy Davis's "Equal Pay for Equal Work" proposal.
All 20 amendments were tabled.
By the end of that night, the bill passed as expected.
I made this observation at the start of these special sessions back on 31 May 2013:
This special session is nothing more than an opportunity for the very vocal minority of Tea Party Republicans to push forward their agenda and to prevent some legislators from seeing a formidable primary challenger in 2014. State level Republicans know they are going to get hammered on issues such as the budget and not pushing enough of an extreme agenda by their base.
I later expanded on that observation in the days after Senator Davis's filibuster at the end of the first special session.
One of the reasons for passing this anti-choice omnibus bill was the argument coming from Republicans saying that fetuses feel pain at 20 weeks. I asked this question via twitter:
I had a few responses to this tweet. They were from your stereotypical right-wing Tea Partier types. What did I do?
The fetal pain theory is bunk (among OTHER anti-choice theories that are circulating the so called "pro-life" movement and Republican politics). A British study says that fetuses cannot feel pain until 24 weeks while an American study says it is much later at 28 weeks. The reason for these findings is that fetuses' have not developed the nervous system to feel pain.
Also, a 2005 study by the Centers For Disease Control published that less than 1.3% of all abortions occur after 21 weeks.
Or in other words, science.
Another issue that Texas Republicans are claiming is that they want to make health care for women safer.
So how safe are abortions in Texas? 22% of abortions in Texas were preformed in facilities classified as ambulatory surgical centers while the rest were preformed in clinics that don't meet HB 2's standards. According to the health department, the type of clinic has no impact on safety where the abortion is preformed.
HB 2 was not based on sound science or making health care for women safer. Instead it will punish poor women and women of color as they seek unsafe alternative methods to terminate a pregnancy such as purchasing abortion inducing drugs on the Black Market or worse... going to medical providers who will butcher a woman.
I know I have said it once in prior entries, but it is worth repeating.
HB 2's passage was nothing more than political gamesmanship to satisfy the rabid Tea Party base going into the 2014 elections. Texas Republicans pushed their luck and they have lost. There is a sense of anger among people on my side of the aisle and we have had enough. This could be the beginning of the end of the Republican Party's almost 20-year hold on Texas politics.
Back to my question that I tweeted asking about how can Texas Republicans care about fetus pain but not about the hunger pains of a child.
The Republican Party claims to be the party of "pro-life." There is a catch... they only care about you if you are a fetus. After you are born, you are on your own.
As shown with the farm bill, House Republicans passed a bill that gave subsidies to farmers and big agriculture businesses but no funding to food stamps. It is not just food stamps. Here in Texas, our legislature cut education funding. There is the issue of fracking which raises concerns about the quantity and quality of our water supply. And of course, for the 38th and 39th time, the House GOP voted to repeal ObamaCare. Meanwhile 1 out of 4 Texans are without healthcare coverage. Then there is the issue of that Republicans are refusing to taking on gun reform legislation because the NRA
has them by their collective testicles threatens to run NRA backed
candidates against them.
Oh and Lege Republicans have filed this bill, The Fetal Heartbeat Bill, that would criminalize an abortion where a heartbeat is detected. The bill is classified as "trigger" legislation meaning it will only take effect if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade (1973).
The bill was filed within minutes of Governor Perry signing HB 2.
So... back to the title of this entry.
My fellow Democrats/Liberal minded people can present Republicans with the facts and we can write letters, tweet them, call them, and show up physically to their offices in their district and the capitol building.
We can hold marches and yell and scream at them to vote for a position that we advocate, but as shown with the votes in The Lege and the US House, those actions did not sway their opinion.
You would think that when a crowd of this size....
from WITHIN TEXAS shows up to the Pink Dome in Austin, that Republicans in The Lege would stop and think about what they are doing.
But as shown with their votes, we don't matter to them.
When Republican politicians return to their districts the moment the Special Session adjourns sine die, they will brag about how they passed this anti-choice bill. The only thing these politicians will be proud about is they have something to shelter themselves going into the 2014 Republican Primaries which will be brutal for them. Other than that, this legislation does nothing to curb Texas's exploding teen birth rate. The Lege did nothing to ensure that future generations of Texans have access to health care with their constant moaning about how ObamaCare is an unfunded mandate (and HB 2 isn't?). And most telling is they didn't fully restore the education cuts that took place during the 82nd session and were unwilling to listen to Democrats proposals to make Texas a better state.
The sad part is they refused to listen to the voices of the victims of sexual assault who were traumatized by their experiences. Or the women who experienced a wide range of complications during their pregnancies that not only endangered the well-being and formation of the fetus but also jeopardized future pregnancies and in some instances endangered the health of the mother.
Because of their unwillingness to listen to the marginalized and only listening to the most extreme voices in their party, Republicans will pay a heavy price at the election booth come November 2014.
Eventually, we will stand up to these bullies.