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June 27, 2013 at 6:00 AM

Washingtonians should stand with Wendy Davis, protect abortion rights

Washington is not Texas. Thankfully, lawmakers here are not pursuing misguided regulations to curb reproductive rights for women. But I still think the massive response to Tuesday’s nearly 12-hour filibuster in the Texas Senate by Wendy Davis demonstrates why we cannot take the right to make our own private decisions about our health for granted.

Texas State Senator Wendy Davis, D-Forth Worth, spends a quiet moment after her filibuster was halted on the final day of the legislative special session. (Louis DeLuca/Dallas Morning News/MCT)

Texas State Senator Wendy Davis, D-Forth Worth, spends a quiet moment after her filibuster was halted on the final day of the legislative special session. (Louis DeLuca/Dallas Morning News/MCT)

Look at what’s happening nationwide.

Last week, the Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 1797, a far-reaching measure that would restrict the time frame in which abortions are allowed, from about 24 weeks down to 20 weeks after conception. According to The New York Times, several states have already done this or something similar.(Read former Seattle City Councilmember Judy Nicastro’s harrowing Times op-ed on her late-term abortion at this link.)

The supporters of such measures — mostly Republicans — often say they are protecting women’s health. That’s misleading, considering this Guttmacher Institute Q&A that cites studies showing less than 1% of U.S. women suffer major complications after they undergo a safe, legal abortion. As long as the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling is in place, anti-abortion forces are really doing everything they can to chip away at access. Hence, the measures we saw the GOP attempting to pass in Texas, including a ban on abortions after 20 weeks and a slew of regulatory procedures designed to make it difficult for doctors to work and for clinics to remain open.

Davis’ marathon filibuster stopped this nonsense — for now. Gov. Rick Perry has called a second session and placed these abortion bills back on the agenda.

Washingtonians, Texas women need our support from afar and we must remain vigilant. We are fortunate to live in a state that has long respected a woman’s privacy. (Check out this write-up at HistoryLink.com for more and my Jan. 23 blog post about public support for the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling.) In fact, Planned Parenthood and reproductive rights advocates worked hard this year to pass the Reproductive Parity Act to protect insurance coverage for abortions, albeit unsuccessfully.

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Comments | Topics: abortion, texas, Washington State Legislature