Thousands of Houstonians visited Discovery Green on Saturday to rally for abortion rights with Democratic gubernatrial candidate Beto O’Rourke, Reps. Sheila Jackson Lee, and Sylvia Garcia, and Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo.
“My entire life, Roe v. Wade has been the law of the land, I’ve known nothing else,” O’Rourke said. “But those who preceded me, those who preceded all of us, they made that happen, that fortunate generation who was fighting for the right that so many, too many have taken for granted for too long.”
“We now have that same opportunity, to fight just like they did,” O’Rourke said. “I want us to remember, whatever we think the odds are right now against us, this is possible, and in fact it has been done before up against much greater odds.”
The rally comes days after a leaked draft of a Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade was published by Politico. The decision would result in a total ban of abortion in Texas, even in instances of rape or incest, and see abortion providers fined and charged with felony.
More than 5,000 Houstonians attended the rally where O’Rourke took shots at Gov. Greg Abbott and the state’s trigger law that would ban abortion 30 days if Roe v. Wade is overturned.
“This fringe, extremist policy of Greg Abbott, a total ban on all abortions begining at conception with no exception for rape or incest in the state of Texas, that is not us,” O’Rourke said. “That is not a reflection of the people of Texas, it’s a reflection of this failed democracy that was brought down by Greg Abbott and that Republican majority.”
“If Greg Abbott cared about life, we wouldn’t have a Child Protective Services with 30,000 kids, many of them sleeping in CPS offices under the tables, on the desks,” O’Rourke said later. “We wouldn’t have had 100 children in the custody and care of the state of Texas lose their lives last year because [Abbott] is more concerned with scoring political points than helping the most vulnerable among us.”
The rally was also attended by Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo and two Houston area members of Congress, Reps. Sheila Jackson Lee Sylvia Garcia, who all stumped for O’Rourke and encouraged attendees to vote this November.
Judge Hidalgo said her focus since 2018 has been on the health of the community, she warned the audience that overturning Roe. v Wade would not stop abortions but push them underground where they could become unsafe and deadly.
“Those procedures kill women, women die when we don’t have Roe v. Wade, women who look like me, women who are my same age,” Hidalgo said.
Garcia spoke about the stakes in 2022 and passing the Women’s Health Protection Act, a bill to codify Roe v. Wade approved by every Democratic House lawmaker except Rep. Henry Cuellar.
“We already passed codification of Roe v. Wade in the House, it’s the Senate that’s the problem,” Garcia said. “We need to make sure that we get a couple of senators from the Republican side to vote for us, because like on so many things, Joe Manchin is not with us.”
Jackson Lee energized the crowd by railing against Senate Bill 8, the state’s six-week abortion ban.
“Do you realize the Texas bill creates a bounty system, that you are no more than an animal that is hunted, that they will give money to people who tell on you or your provider,” she said.
Later, holding up a coat hanger for rally goers to see, the congresswoman said to cheers, “this will not be the medical tool of the 21st century … never again!”
Original photo: Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia Commons
Fernando covers Texas politics and government at the Texas Signal. Before joining the Signal, Fernando spent two years at the Houston Chronicle and previously interned at Houston’s NPR station News 88.7. He is a graduate of the University of Houston, Jack J. Valenti School of Communication, and enjoys reading, highlighting things, and arguing on social media. You can follow him on Twitter at @fernramirez93 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org