Behind the Scenes at a Texas Pro-Life Meeting

Almost five minutes of audio, posted in full below, obtained by Naral Pro-Choice Texas and Progress Texas, shows the tactics Texas anti-abortion activists are using in order to exploit recent court decisions -- like McCullen v. Coakley, which outlawed buffer zones around health clinics that provide abortions -- and prevent abortions.

The audio was recorded during an August 4, 2014 training session hosted at the State Capitol by anti-abortion groups. It outlines the techniques used by the groups to track abortion providers and women seeking abortions, keep women who arrive at clinics from actually going inside.

"You track license plates," Karen Garnett of the Catholic Pro-Life Committee of North Texas says on the tape, "the license plates that are coming into any abortion facility. We have a very sophisticated spreadsheet."

This allows the groups to track whether or not a woman returns after being turned away by sidewalk protesters -- or, as they insist on calling themselves, counselors -- and to "identify if you've got a new abortionist," Garnett says. Later in the tape, Abby Johnson of Live Action describes how she dug through tax appraisal records to figure out the potential locations of a new Ambulatory Surgical Center -- something all abortion providing facilities will be required to be as of September 1 -- in Austin.

See also: How Texas' New Abortion Restrictions Have Actually Impacted Access to the Procedure

Heather Busby, the executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, responded to the video in a press release:

"The same groups that lobbied Texas lawmakers to pass HB2, a law that has nothing to do with the health and safety of women, are those outside abortion clinics, harassing and intimidating patients, blocking them from accessing the care they need, and threatening abortion providers. With fewer clinics for these stalking protestors to target, the dangerous impact of their intimidation tactics will be exacerbated. Texas women are now not only forced to travel hundreds of miles to even access a safe and legal Texas clinic, but once they reach a clinic they must also confront the very real threat posed by these anti-abortion activists. The anti-abortion harassment tactics outlined in this disturbing training lead women to seek dangerous alternatives."

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Stephen Young has written about Dallas news for the Observer since 2014. He's a Dallas native and a graduate of the University of North Texas.
Contact: Stephen Young