Reproductive justice in Texas can sometimes be a losing issue, said Drucilla Tigner, an American Civil Liberties Union of Texas abortion rights political strategist, at an event held Wednesday in downtown Austin.
At the event, around 40 community members and UT students discussed reproductive freedom with members of ACLU of Texas. The Q&A-style discussion was hosted by The Riveter, a coworking space in downtown Austin focused on gender equality in the workplace.
“There is a complete disconnect with the state legislature on how women actually live their lives,” Tigner said at the event.
Sociology senior Hannah Hughes attended the event. She said she spent a lot of time at the State Capitol during the 86th Texas Legislative session, where she watched reproductive rights advocacy groups work to fight anti-abortion legislation.
“It was very disheartening that we even needed to be there to say, ‘Please give us the right to make our own decisions,’” Hughes said.
Last month, Gov. Greg Abbott signed Senate Bill 22 into law, prohibiting state and local tax dollars from going toward any abortion provider or any affiliate of an abortion provider in Texas. Abbott also signed House Bill 16, which requires a physician to provide appropriate medical care to a baby born alive after an abortion attempt, or face a fine of up to $100,000 and a third-degree felony.
“(The bills are) incredibly sad,” Hughes said. “But I am almost glad that there is still work that can be done. This is not over. The pin hasn’t fallen yet.”
Within the past six months, several states, including Alabama and Ohio, have passed various forms of early abortion bans that prohibit abortion under circumstances including pregnancies resulting from rape and incest.
“We do not have an abortion ban in Texas,” Tigner said. “Any time I get down on myself, I just write that in big, bold letters.”
Colton Ferrell, the Central Texas community organizer at Planned Parenthood Texas Votes, said UT students can get involved with reproductive freedom advocacy by contacting their student chapters of Planned Parenthood.
“I remember being a student and having so much hope and energy, wanting to go out and change the world,” Ferrell said. “I love working with students because it keeps that fire alive in me. It reminds me why I do what I do.”