The Legislative Cocktail Hour

Texas: Where the Constitution protects our guns but not our women

Texas: Where the Constitution protects our guns but not our women

Sunday abortion rights supporters 2
Abortion rights supporters gathered at the State Capitol during Sunday's special session of the Texas legislature. KVUE
Sunday abortion rights supporters 2
Sunday abortion rights supporters at the Capitol
Sunday abortion rights supporters

If anything, this special session has taught us that our Texas lawmakers would like to continue the stereotype that we’re just a bunch of racist, uneducated loons.

Two of the major things that they’ve managed to bring to the docket (and to the rest of the country’s attention) are a redistricting map that essentially makes minority areas less powerful and a whole bunch of abortion issues that, while they may not be directly impacting the urban-dwelling twenty-somethings that I imagine actually read this column, they will heavily impact poor women living in rural areas.

House Bill 60, Senate Bill 5 and House Bill 1
Thursday night, hundreds of people gathered to testify against new regulation that limits where abortions can be performed and shortens the window of time to have the procedure from 24 weeks to 20 weeks. At 3:30 a.m., the hearing was suspended and all those people were sent home. On Friday morning, lawmakers reconvened in relative secret, a move that outraged opponents of the bill.

Debate continued over the weekend and into the wee hours of Monday morning. At 3:30 a.m., the lawmakers convened only to begin again around 9 a.m. Monday. And at 10:20 a.m. on Monday morning, the Texas House of Representatives passed it.

Politicians on both sides of the aisle are touting this bill as a women’s health issue. With so much attention the issue has received, it makes me sad that we don’t pay more attention to men’s health issues. When are the vasectomy bills going to be voted on? And when do the prostate issues hit the airwaves? Why aren’t we tightening gun legislation to stop so many male politicians from shooting themselves in the foot? To all the men everywhere, I’m so sorry that your health doesn’t get the attention that ours does.

And, since we’re all here anyway, can we talk about the fact that this is a constitutional right? It is not a religious preference or a Republican vs. Democrat issue. It’s a right protected under the United States Constitution, that same document that lawmakers used to justify several pieces of gun legislation passed this year. You can give us abortions and guns or completely outlaw both. It doesn’t seem you can have it both ways.

House approves redistricting maps
Well, this came as absolutely no surprise. Those maps that in 2012 were challenged for being too racist were passed with some slight modifications. The changes were made so abruptly that many lawmakers didn’t know they were even happening. The new maps left some politicians outraged including Rep. Pat Fallon, R-Frisco who, according to the Associated Press, called Rep. Bennett Ratliff, R-Dallas, “a big liar.”

This column certainly has been fun. It’s meant to engage a group of people who maybe don’t find themselves all that civically engaged. Maybe you can’t name your representative. (And that’s okay! You can find out here.) Maybe you didn’t even vote in the last election. (Not as okay! But you can register here.) Later this week, we will feature a rockin’ roundup of all the fun (and not-so-fun) times we had during the session.