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Op-ed: Texas repro-rights advocates 'already know what it's like for abortion access to be more myth than reality'

In an opinion piece for the Texas Tribune's "TribTalk," Nan Little Kirkpatrick, executive director of the Texas Equal Access Fund, discusses advocates' preparedness to combat antiabortion-rights efforts under the new administration, noting that while the administration's rhetoric is "certainly scary, various states have been attacking abortion access for over a decade, and Texas is one of them."

In other words, she writes, "We already know what it's like for abortion access to be more myth than reality," explaining, "[N]o matter the outcome of the election back on Nov. 8, those of us who work to protect abortion access in Texas were never going to be able to rest."

For instance, Kirkpatrick spotlights a bill (HB 87) re-filed "on the very first day of bill filing for the 2017 Texas legislative session" that "would remove the fetal anomaly exception to [Texas'] 20-week abortion ban, making it impossible for a woman in that circumstance to make her own decision about her pregnancy." Kirkpatrick writes, "[E]ach of us must be able to make personal decisions that are best for our own circumstances as a pregnancy progresses, including an abortion."

Kirkpatrick also highlights a state rule set "to take effect Dec. 19 that forces anyone who has had an abortion or lost a pregnancy to miscarriage to have the remains cremated or buried -- regardless of that person's beliefs or desires." The measure "isn't based on scientific research or medical best practice," she explains, but rather "is merely a way for Texas to make the abortion procedure more expensive and emotionally traumatic for the patient." According to Kirkpatrick, the rule "would disproportionately impact the low-income people who call us at the Texas Equal Access Fund hotline seeking funding for their abortions, as it would add cost to the procedure."

Further, Kirkpatrick continues, "As expected, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick [R] included anti-abortion measures in his top legislative priorities for 2017." Patrick "is seeking to ban effective and medically proven abortion procedures and justifying it with inflammatory and unscientific rhetoric," Kirkpatrick writes. She adds, "Patrick also wants to crack down on the 'selling of fetal tissue,' which is a made-up problem manufactured by bogus sting videos meant to damage our allies at Planned Parenthood."

According to Kirkpatrick, "At Texas Equal Access Fund, we already knew that 2017 was going to be a year of resistance and vigilance." Citing Texas Equal Access Fund's role in representing the voices of those most affected by the proposed restrictions, Kirkpatrick writes, "Low-income people in Texas bear the brunt of anti-choice legislation. People of color, undocumented people, incarcerated people, people in rural communities and young people already face too many barriers to abortion and are either forgotten, ignored or openly attacked by [antiabortion-rights] politicians."

"But we're ready to take them on," Kirkpatrick states. Citing the fund's Repro Power Dallas Agenda, she explains that "we'll be working with our ... state representatives [who support abortion rights] to push back on these proposals." Kirkpatrick concludes, "Regardless of who is in the White House, we here at Texas Equal Access Fund will spend 2017 making sure that people can access abortion when they need it, and building toward a future where every Texan can live with dignity, justice and self-determination" (Kirkpatrick, "TribTalk," Texas Tribune, 12/7).