The Texas House just passed sweeping abortion restrictions. Once they pass the senate, the procedure will be banned 20 weeks post-fertilization, and all but five abortion providers in the state will be forced to close thanks to a medically unnecessary requirement that they meet the standards of ambulatory surgical centers and that doctors have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles. Even Wendy Davis won't be able to stop them this time.
And so, Democrats are doing the next best thing: painting a tour bus burnt orange and holding rallies in the Texas' major cities proclaiming a Republican war on women.
This morning, it was Dallas' turn. The bus parked at 1500 Marilla and disgorged its payload onto City Hall Plaza: no Davis but a handful of her Senate colleagues, including Dallas' Royce West and Austin's Kirk Watson, a couple of former Planned Parenthood clients, and, as headliner, Planned Parenthood Action Fund president Cecile Richards.
"The last few years it felt like every time women looked up from doing their laundry or helping their kids with their homework the Texas legislature was after them again," Richards said.
She touched on the abortion debate before moving on to the decimation of the Women's Health Program two years ago and the 50-plus clinics that closed and 136,000 Texans who lost medical care as a result. Then, there's Governor Rick Perry's decision to reject the expansion of Medicaid under Obamacare, which she says cost another 750,000 Texas women access to health care.
"I'm here to say we can do better than that in Texas, Rick," she yelled to cheers from her burnt-orange clad supporters.
Richards was followed by Christina Garcia, a woman from San Antonio who went to Planned Parenthood for prenatal care and counseling on how to survive as a single mother and Cynthia Wilson, a middle-aged Dallas woman who survived ovarian cancer thanks to early diagnosis at a Planned Parenthood Clinic.
It was a well-orchestrated event. There were "Stand with Texas Women" T-shirts for all, and "Cheaters Never Win" signs for most. Battleground Texas staffers prowled through the crowd collecting phone numbers and email addresses while a guy with an earpiece whispered stage directions into a microphone. Most impressive, they managed to convince the crowd of 100 or so -- mostly women, a few guys, one of them holding a "Gays for Vajays" sign -- to move out of the shade of City Hall, where they had hunkered before the bus arrived and into the sweltering sunlight of the plaza proper.
And despite the legislative debate that sparked the bus tour and brought out the crowd, it wasn't really about abortion. The procedure was barely even mentioned. In its place was example after example aimed at framing the recent actions of the state's elected Republican leaders as a war on Texas women.
There's some evidence to support that claim. There's more to support Richards' other contention: "You know, you gotta wonder, when the only one on your side is the Texas legislature, it might be time to take a long, hard look at your position."