UPDATE, July 12 11:00 p.m.: Tom Hargis, a communications representative from the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, told Rewire by email: “At this time I cannot speak to the legality of DPS officials confiscating women’s tampons. What is clear, however, is that with the impending passage of this legislation, we are witnessing an abuse of power aimed at half of the Texas population. Women—republicans, democrats, greens, and libertarians—will not forget when they go to the voting booth. We already know that a majority of Texans don’t want politicians interfering with a woman’s profoundly personal medical decisions. Texas politicians are finding that out first-hand at the Capitol tonight.”
UPDATE, July 12, 8:35 p.m.: As the Texas Tribune notes, many reproductive rights supporters are questioning aspects of the Texas DPS’s statement. Furthermore, the Tribune asked DPS officers around the capitol about the jars of feces and urine claim: “multiple officers throughout the Capitol said they had not heard of any jars being found until a reporter mentioned it. Several officers also said they had not heard anything on the DPS radio system about jars of any excrement.”
UPDATE, July 12, 6:10 p.m.: The Texas Department of Public Safety has released a brief statement confirming that “feminine hygiene products” were among the items that were “required to be discarded” before individuals could enter the Texas Capitol for a time Friday. The department says it also collected jars “suspected to contain” feces, urine, and paint. The department did not state why it stopped collecting items.
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State troopers spent an hour and a half Friday confiscating tampons and sanitary pads, among other items, from Texans hoping to enter the public gallery to watch the final debate over HB 2, an omnibus anti-abortion bill that would shut down all but five abortion clinics in the state. The move meant that menstruating people would either have to refrain from entering the gallery, or do so without sanitary products.
Concealed handguns, however, were as welcome as ever—in fact, there’s a line in the Texas Capitol for anyone who wants to bypass security with a weapon.
Volunteers in orange shirts wound through the capitol rotunda, filling reusable shopping bags with enough drug store essentials to stock a small quick-stop, asking folks to surrender their most necessary items before they got to the gallery doors to speed up the seating process.
With just under 500 people packing the senate gallery to maximum capacity, word finally came from the office of state Sen. Kirk Watson (D-Austin) that state troopers had stopped taking up the sanitary items, meaning that menstruating Texans could continue to comfortably participate in democracy at their own state capitol.
Texas’ Republican majority is expected to pass HB 2 late Friday or early Saturday.