Rewire Senior Political Reporter Andrea Grimes was in New Orleans this week, as judges at the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments on Texas’ omnibus anti-abortion law, HB 2. Reproductive justice activists from Texas’ Rio Grande Valley also made the trip to New Orleans for the arguments, and protested outside the courthouse to make their presence felt.
Andrea Grimes: After a 15-hour bus journey, reproductive justice advocates from Texas’ Rio Grande Valley marched outside the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals building in New Orleans on Wednesday morning, they said, to make sure that federal judges saw their faces as they heard oral arguments for and against Texas’ omnibus anti-abortion law, HB 2. If permanently allowed to go into full effect, HB 2 could close all but eight currently existing abortion providers in the state.
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Lucy Felix (in Spanish): … la justicia, y le respeto de las mujeres de Tejas.
Ana DeFrates (in English): We’re here because we’re representing the dignity and respect of Texas women.
AG: The marchers were joined by allies from as far away as Jackson, Mississippi, where the Jackson Women’s Health Organization, or “pink house,” as it’s been nicknamed, stands as the last abortion facility in that state.
Pink House Protester: There’s no place we’d rather be than to be standing here with you all. And I’m so proud to see all these brown, beautiful women here!
AG: Texas abortion providers are asking the federal courts to keep the state’s last remaining abortion clinics open. Latinas from the Valley protested outside the court, chanting in Spanish and English, saying “HB 2 is not for us.”
AD: I’m Ana DeFrates with the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, and I, along with ten other activists from South Texas, the Lower Rio Grande Valley, excuse me, Corpus Christi, drove up here to really paint the picture that Texas Latina women are watching.
AG: Across the country, targeted regulations of abortion providers—or TRAP laws—have been passed by anti-choice legislators who single out abortion providers for medically unnecessary restrictions that, very often, force the doctors either to raise millions for new facilities or to close their doors. Just a year and a half ago, Texas had 41 legal abortion facilities. Today, after the passage of HB 2, it has just 16. And yet anti-choice lawmakers continue to claim that their intent has never been to close clinic doors.
AD: I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the fact that we did have to cross an immigration checkpoint to get here. And it was not lost on any of us that that was simply not an option for many Latina women who need to cross that checkpoint in order to access the only remaining care available in the state if HB 2 is allowed to stand.
AG: The Fifth Circuit is expected to rule on HB 2 in the next few weeks, and legal experts say the case could make it all the way to the Supreme Court. Whatever happens, it’s possible that Texas could be left with just a handful of legal abortion providers, either until the law is ultimately blocked, or permanently if it is declared constitutional.