If At First You Don’t Succeed, Amend, Amend, Amend

HB2510 ostensibly deals with sunset review of the Department of State Health Services. Update at the end of this post.

A whole passel of amendments just got tacked on that turn it into a de facto abortion bill further restricting and regulating abortion providers.

The representatives filing amendments include:

• 2 from Rep. Matt Krause to regulate abortion providers.
• 1 from Rep. Matt Rinaldi that the state would not pay for ANY part of judicial bypass procedures.
• 4 from Rep. Matt Schaefer that make reporting requirements for abortion providers much more stringent and frequent with more severe penalties for filing late, and removing a doctor’s right to perform an abortion when a person wants the abortion because the fetus has been found to have a severe and irreversible abnormality.
• 1 from Rep. Matt Shaheen that also imposes more stringent and frequent reporting requirements on abortion providers.

Amendments like these are selfish attention grabs by legislators unwilling to do the hard work of building consensus around a bill and allowing it to follow the usual path through the process.

These men named Matt – all Tea Party-approved men named Matt – have hijacked a bill about the efficacy of the entire Department of State Health Services, a topic that we can all agree deserves attention on its own, and turned it into a proxy fight over abortion restrictions.

These sorts of antics are one reason so many Texans have disengaged from politics, staying home on election day, and throwing up their hands in collective dismay over the petty posturing of pusillanimous politicos like Krause, Rinaldi, Schaefer, and Shaheen.

Posturing to them, at any rate. For the Texans affected by these amendments, they are amendments that, should they become law, will have life-changing consequences.

Update

Rep. Four Price, author of HB 2510, just let everyone know that he’s going to kill the amendments. I missed his statement, but did tune in to hear him explaining that it is his strong preference, like many members, that people who wish to amend his bill come to him to speak about it before the bill gets to the floor of the house.

I’m fairly certain that Rep. Price would vote for any and all abortion restrictions that might come to the House floor on their own accord, including those in HB 3994 that was left pending in committee last night. The larger issue here is that many members would prefer to get business done than become mired in gamesmanship and amendment power-plays.

It’s still a long time until sine die on June 1st.

Second Update

Wow, it got way worse before the epic performances of several members turned it around. You can read about the path that ultimately lead the bill back to committee, which strips it of all amendments, on the Texas Tribune’s site

I was watching the live stream during the debate on the amendments, and I’m sure my list of highlights matches others:

  • Rep. J.D. Sheffield, a doctor who normally votes against abortion rights and access, spoke from his heart about his experience as a doctor with couples who learn that their wanted pregnancy has gone radically off-course because of a severe and likely fatal fetal abnormality. He eloquently implored the House to oppose the attempt to remove doctors’ ability to perform an abortion in those circumstances, asking “why should the heavy, blunt hand of government come into that most heart-rending decision?” Rep. Schaefer responded with a curt, chilling line of propaganda about two beating hearts and not cutting up babies. Rep. Sheffield deserves appreciation for standing up to the madness.
  • Rep. Jessica Farrar stepped up, as is custom and as had been happening all afternoon with representative after representative, and asked Rep. Shaefer, the amendment’s author, to yield for a question. Voice dripping with disdain and derision, he simply refused to yield. Rep. Farrar, in the most dignified and calm manner, although her voice was shot through with tremors of rage and frustration, called him out and put the rest of the house on notice that this session’s misogyny would not go unanswered and that she refused to yield to it.
  • Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer put the exclamation point on her statement. Texans know that when TMF steps up to the mic and pointedly asks about a specific line on p. 314 of a bill, that bill is going DOWN on a point of order and there’s nothing anyone can do about it.
Posted in feminists & feminism, politics, pro-choice activism, Texas | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Many District Clerks Cannot Answer Questions About Judicial Bypass in Texas

I like to bake. And I like to blog about baking. I’m learning how to make deco rolls, for example. Here are my first two attempts, when I learned that you have to do the letters backward if you want them to come out the right way on the cake:

[That last photo is only called a money cake because I made it the night my savings club met at my house. I don’t normally decorate cakes with dollar and cents symbols. And it is upside down because I don’t know how to flip it—it was the right way up when I saved it. Both cakes were amaretto flavored with a mascarpone/chocolate/cherry filling.]

But here’s the deal. There is far more important stuff going on, and I’ve lost my appetite for cake. And you know it isn’t good when I don’t want cake.

Tomorrow, the State Affairs committee will consider HB 3994, which is, in short, a bill that would not only make it exceedingly difficult for any minor to obtain a bypass, but also drag judges, their staff, and all courthouse personnel into the middle of the ugly world of anti-abortion protesters who think shouting at strangers on sidewalks, gluing locks shut, and skirting the line between free speech and stalking is what civil discourse should look like.

For more on the bill, including how to advocate against it, go here. For more on why minors might need a bypass to the consent required for getting an abortion in Texas, go here.

If you still have an appetite for cake, I can cure you. Jane’s Due Process just released the results of an incredibly disturbing study that demonstrates just how tenuous access to abortion is in Texas, especially for vulnerable minors who need to use the judicial bypass procedure, and just how readily some county courthouse employees will disregard the responsibility to do their job to meddle in the private medical decisions of strangers seeking information on a constitutionally mandated legal process. If the link to the full survey doesn’t load, I have the entire thing at the end of this post.

Here’s the summary:

Jane’s Due Process (JDP) is a 501(c)(3) organization that formed shortly after Texas’ parental involvement law went into effect in 2000. Our mission is to ensure free legal representation for every pregnant minor in Texas whether she chooses to obtain an abortion or become a parent. Among a laundry list of services, we guide minors through the judicial bypass process, guaranteeing non-biased and judgment-free legal representation. Every few years, JDP surveys the district clerks offices around Texas to ensure that clerks are in fact providing callers seeking judicial bypass with correct and comprehensive information.

This report is based on a district clerk call-around completed in February-March 2015. The caller posed as a pregnant minor seeking information about how to obtain a judicial bypass in her residing county. We chose to survey all counties in Texas with populations above 50,000 (62) and spot-check the smaller counties (19). In total, we surveyed 81 counties. The caller asked the following questions:

1. How do I apply for a judicial bypass?
2. Where do I go to file my application for a judicial bypass?
3. Whom do I ask to help me fill out my application?
4. Will anyone else find out that I am applying for a judicial bypass?
5. How do I get a lawyer?

JDP describes the results of their survey as “overwhelmingly disappointing and highly concerning.” I admire their ability to use such measured words to express themselves in the face of results like this:

A mere 26% of counties provided the caller with factually correct information.

Even more frightening, 37% of counties denied entirely their office’s involvement with judicial bypass filings, and a vast 81% of counties had no immediate knowledge of the existence of judicial bypass.

A stunning 43% of counties provided the caller with blatant misinformation.

Several district clerks went a step further and provided the caller with personal, religious advice, referencing “God’s plan” for the minor. One clerk announced she was an “advocate for Crisis Pregnancy Centers” and wanted to meet with the minor in person after work. Other clerks simply told the caller to “pick up the phone and call a lawyer” with one abruptly hanging up the phone. 

This is one of those times when I wasn’t even sure how to pull the most egregious information. You can see the full results on the JDP website (or at the end of this post if their site is still down), but warning, they’ll spoil your appetite for weeks to come.

What is the remedy when employees at the courthouse cannot, or will not, provide accurate information to a minor who is under an extremely terrifying deadline?

We know that crisis pregnancy centers actively try to deceive people who come to them for what they expect will be accurate and unbiased medical information and counseling on all options. In Texas, some of those same clinics now receive state funds to provide deceptive care.

We also know that the State of Texas itself provides demonstrably false and misleading information about abortion in a pamphlet all doctors are forced to give to anyone who had an abortion in the state.

At what point will people who claim to believe in less government, privacy, and freedom realize that the largely Republican representatives they elect in Texas are proponents of the exact opposite?

Call the members of State Affairs tomorrow. The information on their names & numbers is at this link, along with a note on what to say.

But also, please, talk to someone who has no idea this is going on. Help them see just how irrational and reckless this movement to curtail access to abortion really is.

Trust teens. Trust doctors. Trust judges.

#TrustTX


Here is the complete report, in case the link above doesn’t work. I can’t get JDP’s website to load, even though my internet connection is fine and every other website I go to loads right away. Maybe it is bad luck, but I want to make sure this info is out there:

Full Report: Texas Courthouses Ill-Equipped to Handle Constitutionally Required Judicial Bypass Process for Minors

District Clerk Call-Around
Full Report
March 23, 2015

Legal background.
Parental involvement laws began going into effect soon after the passage of Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion nationwide. Just three years after this ruling, the Supreme Court ruled in Planned Parenthood v. Danforth (1976) that a state could not authorize an “absolute parental veto” over a minor’s decision to terminate a pregnancy. The same constitutional prohibition applies to giving a third party an “absolute, and possibly arbitrary, veto” over a decision to have an abortion. Then, in Bellotti v. Baird (1979), the Court ruled that while a state may require minors to obtain parental consent to an abortion, there must be an alternative for those minors who cannot or will not involve a parent. Judicial bypass was thus designed as an alternative option for a minor, requiring that she petition the court and prove mature and well- informed enough to make intelligently the abortion decision on her own “independently of her parents’ wishes.” If she fails to satisfy the court that she is competent to make this decision independently, she must be permitted to show that an abortion would be in her best interest. If the court is persuaded that it is, the court must authorize the abortion. In addition, the bypass procedure must be confidential and expeditious.

Recognizing that minors are indigent and do not have ready access to attorneys, the Texas judicial bypass provision was designed so that any minor could contact a district clerk’s office and get assistance to file a bypass. District clerks are required by law to comply with the state and the Parental Notification Rules implementing the law.

The Survey.
Jane’s Due Process (JDP) is a 501(c)(3) organization that formed shortly after Texas’ parental involvement law went into effect in 2000. Our mission is to ensure free legal representation for every pregnant minor in Texas whether she chooses to obtain an abortion or become a parent. Among a laundry list of services, we guide minors through the judicial bypass process, guaranteeing non-biased and judgment-free legal representation. Every few years, JDP surveys the district clerks offices around Texas to ensure that clerks are in fact providing callers seeking judicial bypass with correct and comprehensive information.

This report is based on a district clerk call-around completed in February-March 2015. The caller posed as a pregnant minor seeking information about how to obtain a judicial bypass in her residing county. We chose to survey all counties in Texas with populations above 50,000 (62) and spot-check the smaller counties (19). In total, we surveyed 81 counties. The caller asked the following questions:

1. How do I apply for a judicial bypass?
2. Where do I go to file my application for a judicial bypass?
3. Whom do I ask to help me fill out my application?
4. Will anyone else find out that I am applying for a judicial bypass?
5. How do I get a lawyer?

The Results.
Our results were overwhelmingly disappointing and highly concerning. A mere 26% of counties provided the caller with factually correct information. Even more frightening, 37% of counties denied entirely their office’s involvement with judicial bypass filings, and a vast 81% of counties had no immediate knowledge of the existence of judicial bypass. A stunning 43% of counties provided the caller with blatant misinformation. Several district clerks went a step further and provided the caller with personal, religious advice, referencing “God’s plan” for the minor. One clerk announced she was an “advocate for Crisis Pregnancy Centers” and wanted to meet with the minor in person after work. Other clerks simply told the caller to “pick up the phone and call a lawyer” with one abruptly hanging up the phone.

While our results depend largely on the clerk who happened to answer the phone under Texas law, clerk’s offices should help any and all minors who seek to file a bypass application. While one clerk may be more knowledgeable than another, the clerk who answers the phone should be able to connect a minor to help immediately. This survey’s methodology replicates precisely what could happen in a real-life situation if a pregnant minor were to simply call her district clerk’s office seeking information. In cases where a clerk does not have any information, he or she should at least be able to transfer the caller immediately to someone who can provide the caller with the correct information, rather than providing the caller with misinformation or no information at all.

We cannot stress enough our concern regarding these findings. The judicial bypass provision is in place as a safety net for pregnant teens who cannot involve a parent or legal guardian in their pregnancy, often times for fear of abuse or abandonment. Judicial bypass absolutely must be accessible to this highly vulnerable population. District clerk’s offices must be trained properly to provide complete and accurate information so that every Texas minor has access to this constitutionally protected provision. Indeed, when the State is not upholding this legal requirement in practice, it creates very serious constitutional problem that may place minors in danger.

Detailed Results.
Below are the findings of the survey in detail with total percentages of the 81 counties surveyed and percentages broken down by large (populations above 50,000) and small counties (the 19 counties surveyed with populations below 50,000) surveyed:

  • Of the 81 counties surveyed, only 26% provided the caller with factually correct information meeting the requirements of constitutional and Texas law.
    –  22.5% of larger counties
    –  37% of smaller counties
  • 37% of counties said they did not handle judicial bypass and/or do not have the necessary forms to be completed in effect refusing to provide minors with access to the bypass process.
    –  31% of larger counties
    –  58% of smaller counties
  • 81% of counties had no immediate knowledge of the existence of judicial bypass, in that the first clerk to answer the phone could not help the minor
    –  79% of larger counties
    –  89% of smaller counties
  • 43% of counties provided the caller with blatant misinformation such as claiming there is no bypass procedure or that the minor must have an attorney before filing an application for bypass
    –  35% of larger counties
    –  68% of smaller counties
  • 16% of counties claimed they could not disseminate any instructions regarding how to apply for judicial bypass due to an inability to give legal advice
    –  6% of larger counties
    –  47% of smaller counties
  • 6% of counties told caller incorrectly that there would be a filing fee
    –  6% of larger counties
    –  5% of smaller counties
  • 33% of counties directed the caller to the wrong place to obtain and complete the application
    –  26% of larger counties
    –  58% of smaller counties
  • 11% of counties were unreachable after 3+ attempts, all of these being larger counties

For additional information, contact Executive Director Tina Hester or Research Associate Emily Rooke-Ley: 512.444.7891 or email jdprocess@gmail.com

Posted in feminists & feminism, politics, pro-choice activism, Texas | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Texas Progressive Alliance Roundup April 20, 2015

The Texas Progressive Alliance honors the victims of the Oklahoma City bombing on the 20th anniversary of that dark day as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff celebrated the city of Houston’s victory in court against the petition effort to force a referendum on repealing the city’s Equal Rights Ordinance.

Libby Shaw at Texas Kaos and contributing to Daily Kos wonders what a progressive Democratic grassroots activist is to do when her Party’s leaders turn tail and side against their constituents. Les Miserables: Texas Political Donors and Voters Bought Lemons.

Nonsequiteuse suspects it would be safer to go to the grocery store and more crowded on election day if Democrats would put down their guns and move slowly to the left.

Socratic Gadfly combines his being a history buff with being an aficionado of classical music and poetry to note how Lincoln’s death has been commemorated in the arts, on the sesquicentennial of his assassination.

There’s a new “Dirty Thirty” in Austin, and PDiddie at Brains and Eggs pulls back the curtain on the so-called Texas House Democrats who voted with the Republicans to overturn municipal fracking bans. Surprise: it’s all about the money, specifically campaign contributions from oil and gas companies.

From WCNews at Eye on Williamson. It’s always funny when the media tries to figure out why the GOP can’t come up with a “fantastic scheme for all that cash”, When Cutting Is All You Know.

Neil at All People Have Value wrote about the $2000 ticket a San Antonio chef was given for feeding the homeless in violation of a law prohibiting the feeding of the homeless in San Antonio. These laws are evil. Houston has such a law. APHV is part of NeilAquino.com.

Texas Leftist noted (a few weeks back, but who’s counting) on the recent designation of Interstate 69 through Houston and Harris County, and the economic impact expected.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme was extremely disappointed to hear Leticia Van de Putte use a fundamental Republican talking point to blow off non-discrimination ordinances. I want my money back from her Lieutenant governor’s race.

=====================

And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

Paradise in Hell marvels at the hatefulness of Steven Hotze.

Scott Braddock chides the Legislature for its inaction on the problem of misclassifying employees.

Texas Watch issues a call to action against a bill that would weaken insurance policyholder protections.

Texas Clean Air Matters is on the lookout for the legislators who are seeking to gut local control.

Better Texas Blog explains how the Aycock school finance bill would increase inequity among the highest and lowest wealth districts.

Posted in Texas Progressive Alliance | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

The Outlook Worsens for Teens and Judicial Bypass

The Texas Legislature isn’t done in their quest to further limit access to abortion, a constitutionally protected, legal medical procedure. They’re continuing to pick a fight with the group of people least able to defend themselves—Texas teens.

Instructions on how to oppose this bill are at the end. If you wish, just read the bold paragraph, then skip to the end & make calls to representatives’ office.

Rep. Geanie Morrison’s HB 3994 throws knock-out punches left and right, targeting both teens needing to obtain a bypass (and here’s why they might need one) and judges who consider the cases.

In brief, this bill greatly complicates, unnecessarily lengthens, and greatly increases the cost of the bypass procedure while removing almost all judicial discretion and creating such a high burden of proof for the minor that it will be all but impossible to obtain a bypass. It is the Voter ID of abortion access. It also puts a target square on the back of judges who hear these cases by requiring more strict records be kept than are legally necessary. 

The details, if you are a detail person:

  1. The bill extends the time in which a court must rule. Right now, courts must rule within 2 days, or the bypass is automatically granted. HB3994 turns 2 into 5 days. This is one of the most harmful provisions. Each week that passes when a person is pregnant and wants to terminate the pregnancy adds cost and complication to the procedure. Minors already lag behind adults in determining that they are pregnant (ie, they are farther along when the realize they are pregnant); a 5-day delay could have devastating consequences.
  2. It changes the standard of review on which the court must rule from a preponderance of the evidence to clear and convincing evidence. Clear and convincing is a much higher threshold for a minor to meet, and gives the judge far less leeway to use discretion in considering the evidence. This, too, is one of the most serious and harmful changes in this bill.
  3. It contains such a confusing section on what a judge must, shall, or must not, or shall not consider in making a determination that it will create more confusion than already exists. It muddies waters that are clear, if not ideal, in the current statute.
  4. It says doctors must presume any person* seeking an abortion is a minor until that person affirmatively provides “an apparently valid governmental record of identification.” It is vague as to what ID is “apparently valid,” so I wonder how this might affect undocumented people over the age of minority. I suspect it is intended to be a gotcha for doctors who treat undocumented people—including victims of human trafficking whose passports and other IDs are often locked away by their captors. These are the same human trafficking victims Republicans are otherwise so keep to protect.
  5. It drastically limits the venue in which a bypass request can be filed to only the minor’s home county, a neighboring county (presumably a contiguous county) if and only if the home county has a population fewer than 10,000, or in the county where the abortion will be performed. Only 7 of the 254 counties in the state have abortion providers currently; that number could drop at any moment depending upon current litigation. Look at a map of Texas with the abortion clinics marked, and you will see the consequences of this limitation.
  6. It contains the same provision that the guardian at litem and attorney cannot be the same person and must both be appointed. Under current law, the attorney can serve as both, which streamlines a proceeding in which time is of the essence. When King’s bill came up, the point was made that dividing these duties would increase costs for the state.
  7. But wait! Don’t worry about that financial impact. HB3994 changes the law, from saying a court may require the state to pay, to saying it may not require the state to pay. So now, the state won’t have to pay for the appointments, either of them, or for any fees or costs associated with the filing. Congratulations, minor! Your abortion just got much more expensive. And suck it, organizations like Jane’s Due Process providing attorneys pro bono, you’ll now be put in the position of either telling teens they have to come up with court costs, or raising more money to cover them for teens.
  8. It makes explicit that the minor must appear in person, not by video or any other teleconference technology. Minors of the panhandle, get ready to leave home for a week, at the least, to get through this. I mean, what minor could possibly have a problem leaving home for a week?
  9. Insidiously, the bill strikes language that a doctor must report abuse by “a person responsible for the minor’s care, custody, or welfare” so that a doctor must report any abuse to the Department of Family and Protective Services. We want doctors to report abuse, obviously, but from a minor’s perspective, this means an uncle who has threatened to beat the minor if the minor reveals their relationship gets reported. I think that’s a good thing to report, but doctors are already required to report such abuse. Putting this provision in this law is redundant, and simply another attempt to intimidate minors into attempting to procure a bypass.
  10. It requires that records be kept that track case outcomes. This means that the same dangerous radicals who now show up at doctor’s homes and churches and who shout at people entering clinics will know exactly which judges to harass in the same way.

So, that’s a long list. A list that, taken together or in pieces, delays access to a constitutionally protected legal medical procedure.

If you can go to Austin Wednesday, April 22nd:
The committee will meet at 10:30 am in JHR, room 140 (find this building, which is to the northwest of the capitol, on this map. It is a stand-alone building that you cannot access from inside the capitol building).

Often, 10:30 am start times are delayed until business on the House floor adjourns in the afternoon. And, we know State Affairs has no problem letting its meetings run late. Last week, however, the Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence Committee heard their abortion bill first rather than push it to the end, so be prepared for anything. Check the live stream if you want to see what’s happening. They could push back the time if many of us show up; they could go early if we show up late.

We’re inside the 72-hours, but perhaps if you call right away, you could still get help if you need accommodations. From the committee notice:

“NOTICE OF ASSISTANCE AT PUBLIC MEETINGS Persons with disabilities who plan to attend this meeting and who may need assistance, such as a sign language interpreter, are requested to contact Stacey Nicchio at (512) 463-0850, 72 hours prior to the meeting so that appropriate arrangements can be made.”

You can stay, of course, and you can even register to give testimony on the bill. Testimony will likely be limited to two minutes, so prepare in advance.

You can also just do a quick stop at the capitol to sign in opposing the bill. Putting your opposition on the record is important. NARAL Pro-Choice Texas has instructions on their website for doing so. Load up your car, round up friends and get on the bus, do whatever you can to help people participate and register their dissent.

If you cannot go to Austin Wednesday:
Currently, the only way to register is to be AT the capitol complex, which just isn’t practical for most Texans. There are still ways, however, to participate in this hearing and help amplify our opposition to this bill.

One, you can watch the live stream of the hearing so you can tweet along or take notes. You’ll see a link to live committee broadcasts in the upper right corner of this page on the Texas Legislature Online site. You’ll want to select the State Affairs Committee. Remember, if you can see people moving but you can’t hear anything, it could mean that the sound isn’t broadcasting because no one is speaking. Check to be sure your computer isn’t muted, but if it is not, it is likely just that there’s no sound to broadcast.

Two, follow along on social media. #TrustTX will be the hashtag to follow. If you can watch and life-tweet, you can help those who can’t be online to watch the live stream, and you can help create a permanent record of organized opposition to the bill.

Three, you can call members of the committee to tell them you are opposed to the bill, and your own representatives (if they are not on the committee), to ask them to work to make it possible for Texans to sign in as opposed or in support of a bill remotely, so that access to democracy isn’t limited to people who can drop everything and go to the capitol in Austin.

Members are (click link to get to their office pages):

Be polite, and be brief. Your message is that you ask the member to oppose HB 3994 because parts of it are redundant, parts are unconstitutional, and overall, it creates an insurmountable hurdle for the very population – the most vulnerable teens in Texas – that the bypass procedure is intended to help.

#TrustTX

*Abortion-related laws in Texas always uses woman instead of person. I think we all know they mean ciswomen. I will use person whenever possible, unless I am quoting something directly.

Posted in politics, pro-choice activism, Texas | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Put Down Your Weapon and Be a Democrat

I tuned in yesterday for the part of the debate on the House floor over HB910, the House’s version of legislation that would allow holders of concealed handgun licenses to carry their guns openly, a.k.a. open carry.*

Tempers flared, and lapel pins were over-the-top ridiculous:

Representative Stickland wiht a Gun Pin on his lapel

While Rep. Stickland’s lapel pin was germane to the debate, his amendment was repeatedly and definitively ruled to be not germane. A tantrum of epic proportions ensued, and was submitted into the record at his request.

At one point, Rep. Joe Farias stepped up to speak, I believe to Amendment 10. Ultimately, he voted against HB910.

I don’t have the exact quote, and the video archive isn’t ready yet, but even though he opposed HB910, he said something during his comments that really troubled me.

He assured everyone that he supports the second amendment. That’s fine. I have no problem with that, although I’d assume we could stipulate that for all members and save the time spent saying it.

Then, however, he made the claim I’ve heard plenty of others trot out to establish their bona fides when it comes to guns.

He assured his colleagues that he actually owns a gun, a handgun, which he keeps in a drawer in his bedside table.

He also made a very weak and unfunny attempt at a joke, saying something along the lines of the fact that he kept it to protect himself from his wife … really not funny or appropriate, but that’s not my focus at the moment.

No, it is the fact that Democrats, who can be counted on, in most cases, to oppose gun lunacy bills, feel that they have to assure people that they themselves are gun owners, or even gun enthusiasts.

Just stop. Stop already.

First, you don’t need to have a gun to pass legislation relating to guns.

Second, you are perpetuating the myth that people need to be armed to protect themselves. This, for an overwhelming large percent of people almost all of the time, is not true.

We don’t have reliable statistics, of course, about gun violence, because the National Rifle Association has spent buckets of money lobbying against any attempt to do so, but I appeal to your common sense and lived experience.

When was the last time you were in the grocery store, delicately testing avocados to find the one that would be ripe in time for dinner, when you had to drop everything and squeeze off a couple of rounds because someone was threatening the lady at the cantaloupe display?

When was the last time you were sitting at home with friends, watching a movie, when you had to shoot someone who kicked in the door to your kitchen?

When was the last time you were at a museum and had to hide behind a full-scale model of a dinosaur while bringing down a nefarious character with a single shot to the heart from your snub-nosed whatever who had just grabbed a rare opal and a screaming 6-month-old from the Hall of Gems?

Are you always tense thinking about the gun battles that ensue every time you go to the bank to cash a check?

No,  you are not.

Because random gun battles don’t happen on a regular basis at banks, grocery stores, picnics, t-ball games, church services, car washes, or anywhere else.

You can live your whole life in Texas, never own a gun or keep one in your house, and still be a-OK.

True, horrible crimes happen. Some people’s kitchen doors are kicked in, and some children are kidnapped, and some stores are robbed. Rarely, however, do more guns that belong to people other than law enforcement officers solve the problem.

Democrats, stop trying to assure people that you are Republican-Lite. Stop telling me and everyone else about your guns. You oppose these bills, which is the right thing to do.

People who never voted for you before are not going to start voting for you just because you claim to own a gun. You don’t need their support or approval.

It is OK to stand for something. In fact, it makes you a better politician.

Rep. Anchia spoke before the final vote with great passion and conviction. As I remember it, and I’ll go back to check the video archive once it is up, he didn’t mention his guns.

He mentioned his daughters.

Given the choice, are you going to stand up and assure people you are for guns, or are you going to stand up and assure people you are for the life, liberty, and happiness of children?

That should be an easy question for any Democrat to answer.

Why it isn’t is a big part of what is wrong with the party in this state.

 

**If you are trying to calibrate your level of concern over open carry, know that it is not as dangerous as terror and chaos carry, which some who fail to grasp the finer points of legal scholarship like to refer to disingenuously as constitutional carry.

Open carry, at least, requires people who just want to pump gas on a hot day while wearing their pistol on their hip be licensed to do so.

Terror and chaos carry, championed largely by people whose criminal backgrounds would not allow them to obtain a concealed handgun licence, would say that anyone, anyone at all, and in any place, any place at all, but especially playgrounds and grocery stores, could brandish their gun in peace.

Posted in politics, Texas | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Why We Need Judicial Bypass Laws & Who Uses Them

We’re talking about judicial bypass because of a bill coming up in Austin at the capitol, tomorrow, April 14th. You can read about what the bill would do, and how to oppose it, here.

***

Teenagers have sex, which means some have unintended pregnancies, which means some have abortions.

Is your preference that parents be involved when a minor wants to have an abortion to end an unwanted pregnancy?

You might be surprised to know how many minors in that situation desperately wish they could involve a parent in that decision. The judicial bypass procedure that allows a minor to seek permission from the court to get an abortion without parental consent exists because for some, consent is either impossible to obtain or dangerous to seek.

In 2012, there were 68,298 abortion performed in Texas. Only 2.7% of those abortions, or approximately 1,844, were sought by minors. Of that small number, only a few hundred teenagers sought a judicial bypass.

It is rare for a teenager to seek an abortion, and even more rare for a teen to need to access the judicial bypass process, but when they do, it’s for a good reason. According to Jane’s Due Process:

  • In 2013, more than half of the teenagers who obtained a judicial bypass through Jane’s Due Process were abused at home or feared they would be kicked out of their home for being pregnant.
  • In 2014, 39 percent of the teenagers who were assisted by Jane’s Due Process did not live with a parent because of the parent’s death, incarceration, deportation, or abandonment.

The bypass procedure is intended to help minors obtain constitutionally protected abortion services, not slow down the process. The U.S. Supreme Court affirmed this in Bellotti v. Baird. Allow me to repeat. Access to an expeditious and reasonable bypass procedure is the law of the land.

Rep. King’s bill, HB 723, is intended not only to slow down the process, but also to make the process nearly impossible to complete, setting an unreasonably high barrier that, if it became law, would be overturned by the Supreme Court.

Rep. King’s bill does not make the medical process of getting an abortion any safer. Teens who cannot get consent, and cannot get a bypass, are put in a truly dangerous and desperate place with nowhere to turn but internet pharmacies or illegal, unregulated, unlicensed clinics.

These teens are already incredibly vulnerable. They are either alone without a parent or other adult who is legally qualified to help them, or trapped with one who is abusive. We owe it to these young people to speak out in opposition to HB 723, and we owe it to our system of constitutional democracy to protect rights when they are under constant attack.

Join us at the capitol in Austin tomorrow to register as opposed to this bill, or to testify against it. If you can’t go to Austin, you can call committee members to ask them to oppose it.  Click over to yesterday’s blog post information on where to go in Austin, or the list of whom to call from home. It is at the end of the post.

#trusttx

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Texas Progressive Alliance Blog Roundup April 13, 2015

The Texas Progressive Alliance revels in the start of another baseball season as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff looks at the case to pass a state law that would enable “rideshare” services like Uber and Lyft to operate in Texas cities.

Libby Shaw writing for Texas Kaos and contributing to Daily Kos cautions Latino voters to beware slowly starving Republican wolves that are dressed in sheep’s clothing. GOP Woos Latino Voters While Punishing Immigrants.

From WCNews at Eye on Williamson. As GOP Texas House passes it’s budget, taxes take center stage, The Texas Way – The More You Make The Less You Pay, The Less You Make The More You Pay.

SocraticGadfly thinks that creating a national Appomattox Day could be part of dealing with all the political problems that unreconstructed Southerners have caused for America.

To quote Emperor Palpatine: “It is inevitable.” To quote the Borg: “Resistance is futile.” And to quote Yogi Berra: “It ain’t over ’til it’s over.” PDiddie at Brains and Eggs dissects the ‘inexorable’ meme that surrounds Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid.

Nonsequiteuse says it is time to wear orange and head to Austin (or the internet) to rally against HB 723 as the Texas House of Representatives Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence committee considers little word with constitutional consequences for minors who need access to safe, legal abortion services.

Neil at All People Have Value said that the Houston/Galveston National Weather Service offers useful instruction about life. APHV is part of NeilAquino.com.

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And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

Juanita coins a new word for our culture war-infused times.

Dwight Silverman answers your burning questions about cable cord-cutting.

The Lunch Tray explores the ethics of sneaking vegetables into school food.

Better Texas Blog calls for raising the minimum wage.

Texas Clean Air Matters points out that promoting the use of clean energy is a great strategy for conserving water.

The Texas Election Law Blog decries “indignities and tyrannies” in local elections.

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