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Lessons from Texas

November 21, 2013

Meghan Delaney, Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky (PPINK) engagement coordinator, traveled to Texas to join the Stand with Texas Women movement in Austin. Below is her recap of her whirlwind trip. 

A few weeks after I started at Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky this past summer, my boss walked up to my desk one Friday and said, “Ok, I am going to ask you something. You can say no…”

Less than 24 hours later, I landed in Texas to help out Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas with a massive mobilization effort. I was greeted by an all-star team of people from Planned Parenthood affiliates in Montana, New Hampshire, California, and Florida. We were an awesome and diverse group, and we were all ready to do some work!

We were in Austin to help Stand with Texas Women, a coalition of multiple organizations and individuals that organized in opposition to Texas Senate Bill 5, a bill that sought to restrict access to abortion and would result in the closure of almost all the abortion clinics in Texas.

On Monday, July 1, thousands of people showed up at a rally at the Texas state house to support the women of Texas. Our group helped organize the event and helped with crowd control. A few anti-choice people were there, and we didn’t want any confrontations. Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Cecile Richards, Texas Rep. Jessica Farrar, and Texas Sen. (and now gubernatorial candidate) Wendy Davis (http://www.wendydavistexas.com/), who a few days before had delivered an amazing 11-hour filibuster to stop an earlier version of the bill, were among many wonderful speakers we heard at the rally.

After this long day of being in the Texas sun (I didn’t wear sunscreen, big mistake), we had a follow up meeting with Cecile. My Planned Parenthood colleagues and I were a little star-struck! After having a conference call with all of the coalition partners and a discussion about Tuesday’s plans, she very kindly took a picture with us and said, “Y’all need sunscreen!”

On Tuesday, the House heard testimony on the bill. Thousands of people on both sides came to have their voices heard. The day started at 8 a.m. and ended around 1:30 a.m. the next day. Every overflow room and hallway was full of people, and tension ran high throughout the day.

By late afternoon, everyone was starting to get a little weary and very hungry. One of the Stand with Texas Women supporters Tweeted that everyone at the Texas statehouse was getting hungry and we needed help. Soon, thanks to a #pizzasolidarity movement on Twitter, food sent by supporters from all over the country started showing up! It was amazing to see all of the support.

As the night came to an end, the bill was voted on, and was passed. It was a huge disappointment for the people of Texas, and for all of us. However, I left knowing that all of our hard work was not in vain. I learned so much about the power of social media, spreading the word and getting people pumped up and involved. Most important, I witnessed the power and dedication of volunteers. Without their help, this would never have happened.

Advocacy is huge part of Planned Parenthood’s success. I saw that first-hand in Texas. We have power in numbers. Are you ready to take action? Sign up here http://www.advocates.ppink.org/

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