I intended to leave for the Texas Capitol very early this morning, to be there to witness the demonstrations and controversy surrounding The Bill Formerly Known As SB5. Last week, in the first Special Session, crowds of protesters made taking the vote in the Texas Senate take just a little longer than the deadline to end the session. So, Governor Perry called a second Special Session, and added the same bill back into deliberation. Word on the street (okay, internet) was that the progressive crowds were going to show up again, this time to be met with a crowd supporting the 20-week abortion ban.
But I didn’t sleep well, and I felt so ill this morning that I almost didn’t go. I got a late start, but I managed to make it to Austin in time to drive past the Capitol grounds, flooded with a sea of orange-clad protesters, and to hear their cheers as their speakers addressed them. But for a while, that was all I was able to do. Capitol visitor parking was full, not that there’s an overabundance of it anyway. And street after street after street had no available parking. I must have cruised around for thirty minutes, trying to find a place to park. I settled on a drug store parking lot across the interstate, and hiked the uphill climb to the Capitol grounds.
From blocks away I could hear the crowd roaring, but the first thing I saw approaching the grounds was a line of media trucks. National as well as local media were in abundance. By the time I arrived, quite a few of the protesters had gone, but the crowds on the south lawn were still substantial. I started walking around, taking pictures and listening to people.
First I found a Gonzales flag remake with lady parts substituted for the cannon…(Frank Gaines calls it Molon Labia)
I also found the International Socialist Organization
Women were wearing “Wendy is my Mob Boss” shirts…
And they also redid the Gadsden flag to be (one imagines) the Vagsden flag…
Stand With Texas Women handed this out
This was supposed to be a pun, I think…
And this… I don’t even know what that is
These women were happy to show me their signs (one of these things is not like the other)
And the hippies made an appearance with their coat hanger tree
But this is the image that broke my heart finally. An eight year old girl with a large paper umbrella saying “I’m Not Sorry” – I can’t get over that.
I listened to people as I walked around – dressed in black shirt and jeans so as not to appear to be with one group or the other. A few were talking about those prolife nutjobs and their war on women. I heard another group go on about how men shouldn’t have a say in the issue at all. A third set of women were discussing the morning after pill, and how it was approved and tested in Europe for years before arriving in the US market. The last group I hovered near lamented the wholesale denial of women’s health care to poor minority women, because all the abortion clinics would be closed down.
The bill is going to pass, and most people in Texas acknowledge that. And the threats from the progressives are that they will punish the legislators who vote for the bill. Battleground Texas is fundraising like crazy off of the narrative that this is an attack on women. They were registering people to vote, and training voter registrars out of the Teachers’ Union building. They were utilizing every opportunity to turn this (partly Craigslist-purchased) crowd into a ferocious voter turnout machine. Let’s see what Texas conservatives do about it.
I’m glad I went to see this for myself, even if it was a form of “capitol punishment” for me. I don’t even know what happened afterwards (although Liz Harrison wrote it up and used some of my pictures – thanks Liz!) because I was too sick at heart to turn on the radio or check the news on the way home. I still haven’t looked for an update. Events will be going on all this week and next at the Capitol, with voting predicted to take place Monday or Tuesday of next week. I may make another trip or two to Austin in that time. If I have the stomach for it.