On November 6, 2012, my friend Dean Lofton and I decided we’d had enough of the war on women and we wanted to start a group that would encourage women of all political persuasions to get involved in politics. Thus “Austin Women for Political Action” was born on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Austin-Women-for-Political-Action/114614922031858?ref=hl). Little did we know that this would become the summer of women’s discontent in Austin. The legislature avoided issues related to abortion (although not women’s health) during the regular session, but then came the special session. The stories of the first special session have been well documented by people like Jessica Luther in this article: http://www.theatlantic.com/sexes/archive/13/07/use-your-voice/277481/ Wendy Davis’ filibuster helped to mobilize a group of women, including many in our own organization, that had stood on the sidelines while the Texas legislature passed laws during the last session, like the one requiring sonograms before an abortion. Many of these women had never been involved in a political protest or rally before. I was in Europe for a conference that fateful day, but I followed the events as closely as I could and many of my friends were tweeting and posting the latest details on facebook, so in many ways I felt like I was a part of the action. Those who participated were encouraged to wear orange, and the rallying cry began as “Stand with Wendy” and has morphed into “Stand With Texas Women” (#SWTW on twitter).
I returned to Austin last Thursday and got caught up on the latest, including the fact that Governor Perry had called a second special session. I was able to join the large protest at the capitol on Monday, July 1st. It’s very likely that the abortion bill will pass but the most exciting part of all of this has been the energy that has been created. This is about much more than a law that will limit abortions. It’s about women’s access to healthcare, which has already been limited by Texas’ decision to turn down federal funds. This will impact women across large parts of Texas. It’s also about the democratic process, and allowing women’s voices to be heard. Referred to as an “unruly mob” this is much more than that. In what can only be described as a nearly spontaneous outpouring of frustration, Texas women have finally said “we’ve had enough!” Here are a few images from Monday’s rally: