Planned Parenthood South Texas joined other abortion providers and advocates Monday evening to celebrate the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down Texas’s House Bill 2, which placed restrictions on abortion clinics and providers.
“This is an epic win. It is a victory to be celebrated,” Jeffrey Hons, president and CEO of the local Planned Parenthood chapter, told more than 120 people gathered at Tacos & Tequila. “Today’s opinion put into SCOTUS precedent the safety of abortion and did so in the most clear terms and medical context.”
Hons was joined by representatives from Planned Parenthood Texas Votes, Fund Texas Choice, Lilith Fund, NOW – SA Chapter, Texas Freedom Network, and Whole Woman’s Health in addition to community members that just wanted to toast the high court’s decision.
“‘The ability of women to participate equally in the economic and social life of the nation has been facilitated by their ability to control their reproductive lives,’” Hons said, quoting Sandra Day O’Conner’s opinion on the Planned Parenthood v. Casey case of 1992.
He also quoted Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s concurring statement with Monday’s majority opinion.
Justice Ginsburg wrote, “So long as this court adheres to Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, Targeted Regulation of Abortion Provider (TRAP) laws like HB-2 that ‘do little or nothing for health, but rather strew impediments to abortion.’”
Hons read a statement by Rep. Lloyd Doggett (TX-35) that congratulated Planned Parenthood.
“Each woman deserves to make her own decisions, without laws that shut down safe clinics and only hurt women’s health. Our opponents largely limit their health concerns from conception to birth. Our onus extends longer to accessible health care, both before and after that nine months. Our opponents waste the taxpayers time and money defending the indefensible,” Doggett stated.
“Let’s just take a minute to let our minds intersect with others who are fighting for human rights alongside us. The Supreme Court four days ago didn’t give them a good decision,” Hons said in reference to the deadlocked Supreme Court ruling on immigration. “It was heartbreaking to me to hear that that ruling has stopped President Obama from keeping families together … The Supreme Court did a good thing today, but we have to be ready to go shoulder to shoulder with friends of ours and say ‘we’re watching all of the decisions, not just ones that we’re a part of.’”
Representatives of the Lilith Fund, which provides direct financial assistance for abortion services, said that they are relieved to celebrate a win for abortion rights.
“A lot of us have been in this movement for a long time and we live in Texas, so especially when it comes to abortion access, we never hear anything good,” Holly Benavides, Lilith Fund board member, said in an interview. “To be here with Planned Parenthood, to be here with the Lilith Fund and to be here with other (organizations) that fund abortion and de-stigmatize abortion is really revitalizing.”
Fellow board member Misty Garcia said she has been waiting three years for this decision.
“We’re an abortion fund, so we go really underneath the radar … so we do want to get our name out a little bit more and get some recognition,” Garcia said. “Abortion funds like us across the nation are celebrating with us … they were sending us love. We serve large parts of Texas, and we funded over 1,400 abortions last year, but that’s only a third of the people who asked us for help.”
Alexander Clark, a former staffer for Wendy Davis’ gubernatorial campaign, said the ruling is the culmination of efforts going back even further than former State Sen. Davis’ historic filibuster on the senate floor in 2013.
“It’s great to have the Supreme Court reaffirm that every woman has the right to compassion, dignity and respect when making decisions about her own body,” Clark said. “This didn’t start in 2013 and it’s not a fight that’s going away. Politicians have made … this a big wedge issue and to get political points out of it, and we’ve got to be just as vigilant going forward.”
Clark said that the gathering Monday was about seeing good friends and celebrating. “We might not win every battle, but it’s good to appreciate the ones we do,” Clark said.
The struggle is ongoing, Hons said, as new legislation by Texas politicians that attempts to further restrict abortion will likely be introduced at the start of the legislative session in January.
“We are analyzing this through victory and celebration. They are analyzing it as a playbook for what bills they are going to put before each other in January. We’ve gotta be ready for that,” Hons said. “We must resist them at every turn, we must begin asking for the repeal of other terrible abortion regulations in Texas and we must lift up the intersection of our work on reproductive rights with the array of human rights and reproductive justice that must come to pass.”
Meanwhile, six pro-life members of the San Antonio Family Association protested the Court’s decision in front of the Whole Woman’s Health clinic.
Protestors said a prayer and heard speeches from Association board member Mike Knuffke, Executie Director Valerie Garcia and member Norma Reyna, who spoke in Spanish. The group held signs that said “I’m a child not a choice!” and “Women regret killing their baby” as they walked along South Cross Boulevard.
Ramona Trevino, who saw the protestors from her balcony, said that she has had two abortions in her life, one when she was 17, and the other when she was 22.
“I regret the decisions I made to this day,” Trevino told Rivard Report Photo Editor Scott Ball.
Top Image: Lilith Fund Board Members Misty Garcia (middle) and Holly Benavides (right) speak with a fellow attendee at the Planned Parenthood celebration at Texas and Tequila. Photo by Sarah Talaat.