from NARAL Pro-Choice Texas & Progress Texas video
This morning NARAL Pro-Choice Texas and Progress Texas released audio capturing a pro-life activist training last week at the state Capitol, where speakers told attendees to track license plate numbers along with car makes and models of providers and clients as they arrive and leave abortion facilities.
The four speakers in the video can be heard praising the closure of clinics across Texas and encouraging the trainees to continue intimidating providers and protesting outside clinics. The release comes just one day before closing arguments in the Whole Woman’s Health v. Lakey court case challenging two major provisions of House Bill 2, Texas’ strict abortion law passed last summer.
Abby Johnson, a former Bryan, Texas, Planned Parenthood employee turned pro-life advocate, can be heard saying “abortionists are feeling the pressure...they feel like they are on the run and that’s how we want to keep it.”
Karen Garnett, executive director of the Catholic Pro-Life Committee of North Texas, said in the recording that protesters can use “a very sophisticated little spreadsheet” to track the license plate numbers of patients, as well as providers, to see “whether or not a client comes back” and to “identify a new abortionist...we can also track who works there, who is your abortionist.” Garnett also acknowledges that tactics like lining the sidewalks outside of abortion facilities keep women from getting the procedure.
“...they don’t want to drive in because they see the presence there. That’s one impact,” she can be heard telling trainees.
Heather Busby, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, called the tactics “disturbing.” Busby said in an email to the Current that NARAL received the audio recording after the public training event.
“The same groups that lobbied Texas lawmakers to pass HB 2, a law that has nothing to do with the health and safety of women, are outside those abortion clinics, harassing and intimidating patients, blocking them from accessing the care they need, and threatening abortion providers,” she said in a press release.
House Bill 2 bans abortion in Texas after 20 weeks of gestation, requires that doctors performing the procedure have admitting privileges at hospitals no more than 30 miles away, requires that abortion facilities meet ambulatory surgical center standards, and restricts the use of the medical abortion pill. These provisions had done significant damage to access to safe, legal abortions in Texas, leading to the closure of all but six facilities statewide, with no provider in south or west Texas forcing women to travel hundreds of miles to San Antonio for the procedure.
“Texans are now not only forced to travel hundreds of miles to even access a safe and legal Texas clinic, but once they reach a clinic they must also confront the very real threat posed by these anti-abortion activists," Busby said. "The anti-abortion harassment tactics outlined in this disturbing training lead women to seek dangerous alternatives.”
The trial challenging this restrictive law began in Austin last week and closing arguments are scheduled to take place Wednesday. The plaintiffs, which include Whole Woman’s Health and other independent abortion providers, told a federal judge last week that the law does nothing to protect women and instead creates a significant barrier to access by forcing women to travel hundreds of miles. The state of Texas contends, however, that that travel may not be a “substantial” burden.
Watch the video here: