Tuesday, September 30, 2014
This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at http://www.texastribune.org/2014/09/30/livestream-abbott-davis-face-off-in-final-debate/.
I wanted to share an exciting update about a petition I signed on Change.org: "Texas State House: To ban the use and the sale of prong dog collars".
Read about the update "57 Signatures are still needed for this petition. Please sign and share. Thanks." below, and join me in supporting this campaign by signing the petition!
Debating What's More Sacred: Private Land or Public Beaches
- by Neena Satija, The Texas Tribune
Texas has long prided itself on its Open Beaches Act, which guarantees public access to beaches along most of the state’s 367-mile Gulf Coast.
But public beach advocates say a recent Texas Supreme Court decision — which is supported by the front-runner in the race to be the state's next land commissioner — and a growing property rights movement could endanger that guarantee. They fear that as beaches face impacts from coastal erosion, rising sea levels and the threat of powerful storms, private property rights could take precedence over access to public beach access.
“We have two rock-solid principles: public access to public beaches, and the right of private owners to exclude others from the property which is theirs,” said David Abraham, a law professor at the University of Miami. “They’re always in tension, but if we face issues like sea-level rise and increasingly severe storms, there’s going to be less stability in that balance.”
For decades, the Open Beaches Act — which was voted into the Texas Constitution in 2009 — was a signal to coastline property owners that if erosion or a storm wiped out the public beach behind them, their homes could become state property. In the past several years, the General Land Office, the state agency that deals with coastal issues, has taken 18 properties for such reasons, reimbursing owners $50,000 each.
After Hurricane Rita hit Texas in 2005, Carol Severance sued the state after it said her Galveston property was now in the public domain. In 2010, the Texas Supreme Court ruled in her favor, saying the property remained private because the beach had been wiped out through an “avulsive” event, like a big storm — rather than “imperceptible” coastal erosion.
Public beach advocates say the decision went too far. Rob Nixon, chairman of the Surfrider Foundation’s South Texas chapter, said it “sets up unrestricted development of the coast, which is going to ultimately put the Texas taxpayer and public on the dime for bailing all these people out.”
But many private property rights advocates hailed the ruling. Among the supporters is George P. Bush, a Republican widely expected to win the November election to head the General Land Office.
“I don’t believe that the state should take land” in the event of storms, Bush said recently during an event hosted by The Texas Tribune. He added that landowners whose property has been taken were not compensated enough, and that there are many other places along the coast that the public can access without threatening private property interests.
The current land commissioner, Jerry Patterson, who was named in the Severance lawsuit, has excoriated the Severance ruling as weakening public access in a “Californication of Texas beaches.” As a result of the decision, the General Land Office canceled a $40 million beach nourishment project in Galveston for fear of illegally spending public money on private land.
Patterson said he feared more similar projects would have to be abandoned.
“What we have now is these private property owners who think they have won,” Patterson said. “If they expected a beach renourishment, it ain’t happening. They’ve lost.”
Attorney General Greg Abbott, the Republican candidate for governor and a former Supreme Court justice, also blasted the Severance decision in a 2010 request for the Supreme Court to rehear the case, writing that "with the stroke of a pen, a divided Court has effectively eliminated the public's rights on the dry beach.”
After rehearing the case, the court issued the same ruling two years later. Abbott’s campaign did not respond to requests for comment for this article.
Whether the court decision will extend from Galveston to the entire Texas coast is not clear. Bush has said that he believes it should, but that would probably have to be resolved by another court case.
It remains unclear how to distinguish between storm events and coastal erosion. Storms can contribute to accelerated erosion, but the Severance decision said that only in the case of storms can private property remain private after the public beach has been destroyed.
“You have a storm, and then you have erosion after the storm for a couple of years,” said Joseph Kalo, a professor at the University of North Carolina School of Law, imagining a common scenario. “And the question is, how do things kind of work out then?”
This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at http://www.texastribune.org/2014/09/28/open-beaches-law-uncertain/.
TribLive: Demographic Change and the Digital Divide
- by Evan Smith, The Texas Tribune
This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at http://www.texastribune.org/2014/09/30/triblive-demographic-change-and-the-digital-divide/.
Bill O’Reilly Throws a Temper Tantrum After Stephen Colbert Mocked His Mercenary Army Plan By: Justin Baragonamore from Justin Baragona Tuesday, September, 30th, 2014, 11:20 am
Monday, September 29, 2014
Sunday, September 28, 2014
Planned Parenthood Texas Votes 7 hrs · It's a big week for women's health--set your alarm again--TX GOV DEBATE ROUND 2: TUESDAY, 9/30 @ 8pm. Greg Abbott is just another insider, who wants to impose his views and judge what’s best for all women. Like Wendy Davis said at the first debate-Texas Women say "NO THANK YOU" --and Texas Women Vote. Debate info: http://www.wendydavistexas.com/debate/ #WomenWinTX
Leticia Van de Putte My opponent, Dan Patrick, only accepted ONE debate against me for the entire race for Lieutenant Governor. The debate is this Monday, September 29 at 7PM CT. It's so important that you, your friends and family tune in—SHARE if you'll be watching: leticiavandeputte.com/debate
Saturday, September 27, 2014
Thursday, September 25, 2014
Carolyn Gregoire Become a fan Carolyn.Gregoire@huffingtonpost.com Email This Teacher Gives Money From His Own Pocket To Feed His Hungry First-Graders Posted: 09/24/2014 2:25 pm EDT Updated: 09/25/2014 9:59 am EDT
Wednesday, September 24, 2014
Who is Best for Texas? http://action.workingamerica.org/c/1924/p/salsa/web/common/public/content?content_item_KEY=12284&sp_ref=57794228.91.9361.f.35900.2
700 Babies Exposed to TB: Houston Doc Says It Shouldn’t Have Happened | News 92 FM | Official Site for Houston News, Traffic, Weather, Breaking News
The Definitive Guide To Having Sex.. On Furniture The Huffington Post | By Jessica Cumberbatch Anderson Email Posted: 09/18/2014 4:45 pm EDT Updated: 09/18/2014 5:59 pm EDT - See more at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/18/furniture-sex-everything-you-need-to-know_n_5844768.html?cps=gravity#sthash.AZGnKKiZ.dpuf
Hundreds of Colorado students stage protest over history curriculum Conservative school board proposes history education should be to promote patriotism and respect for authority Share 301 inShare 0 Email Associated Press in Arvada, Colorado theguardian.com, Wednesday 24 September 2014 07.54 EDT
Tuesday, September 23, 2014
Ebola Could Infect 1.4 Million People by End of January, CDC Projects | News 92 FM | Official Site for Houston News, Traffic, Weather, Breaking News
Answer Sheet Proposed Texas textbooks are inaccurate, biased and politicized, new report finds Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Google Plus Share via Email More Options Resize Text Print Article Comments 1002 By Valerie Strauss September 12
Monday, September 22, 2014
The halls of a Texas high school were filled with more than anxious students on Friday. These students literally surrounded their classmate with support after his mother lost her battle with cancer. Read the full story here ---> http://www.myfoxhouston.com/story/26581974/community-comes-together-to-support-teen-athlete-grieving-mothers-loss
Push to Repeal DREAM Act Could Face GOP Criticism
- by Alexa Ura, The Texas Tribune
If elected lieutenant governor in November, state Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, has vowed to repeal the law that allows undocumented students to pay in-state tuition at Texas community colleges and universities.
His stance on the issue puts the front-runner squarely at odds with his Democratic opponent, state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, who sponsored the measure, known as the Texas DREAM Act, in 2001, when it passed with overwhelming Republican support. While his call for a repeal could gain traction among some conservative lawmakers, Patrick could face criticism from business groups that support the law and could hurt efforts of Republicans trying to reach out Hispanic voters.
“It unfortunately can serve as a detriment to our outreach efforts,” said George Antuna, a founder of Hispanic Republicans of Texas, adding that most Hispanic Republicans consider the law good policy. His organization recruits and supports Hispanic Republicans running for public office.
Hector de Leon, co-chairman of the Associated Republicans of Texas, said pushing for a repeal of the law was "unnecessary" and would alienate the Hispanic voters Republicans will need in future elections as Texas' Hispanic population continues to grow.
The Texas DREAM Act allows undocumented immigrants who graduate from Texas high schools and have lived in the state for at least three years to pay in-state tuition at public community colleges and universities. Polling shows that approval for the Texas DREAM Act is high among Hispanic voters while a majority of Texas Republicans who identify with the Tea Party disapprove of the law.
While Patrick did not respond to a request for comment, he has said that he would work to repeal the law, which he equates with giving people who entered the country illegally a leg up in the admissions process. In a recent fundraising letter, Patrick wrote that he opposes “taxpayer-funded benefits for illegal immigrants.”
Patrick is also likely to face opposition from the Texas Association of Business, which recently endorsed him instead of Van de Putte.
“We think in-state tuition is a very appropriate response to the fact that we need more Texans going to college and completing college,” the association’s president, Bill Hammond, said, adding that the group’s endorsement of Patrick was not an endorsement of all his positions. “We choose to disagree with him respectfully on this issue.”
There have been several failed attempts by state lawmakers, including Patrick, to repeal the DREAM Act. Such efforts have not gained traction.
But the Senate’s 31-member body will be more conservative in the coming legislative session, and only one of the Republican senators who voted to pass the law will return in January.
Van de Putte described Patrick’s opposition to the tuition law as “anti-education” for the state’s immigrants because repealing the act could keep Texas residents who “are here by no fault of their own” from attending college. “His first order of business is to repeal something that has been working in our state for 13 years,” Van de Putte said.
Further efforts to repeal the law will come after Gov. Rick Perry, who signed it into law and has adamantly defended it, leaves in January. Without the threat of a veto, Republicans who oppose the bill but were apprehensive about the ramifications of a repeal would be left with no “cover” to oppose a repeal, according to Mark P. Jones, a political scientist at Rice University.
Jones said it was likely that there could be a close and controversial Senate vote to repeal the law, although it could run into “insurmountable” obstacles in the House and among Republicans looking to connect with Hispanics.
“This is a losing issue for Republicans” even if they block an attempt to repeal, Jones said. “A strong and visible effort to repeal would be devastating.”
Disclosure: The Texas Association of Business and Rice University are corporate sponsors of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Texas Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.
This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at http://www.texastribune.org/2014/09/22/patricks-push-repeal-dream-act-could-face-criticis/.
TribFest: One-on-One with Patrick, Van de Putte
- by Evan Smith, The Texas Tribune
This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at http://www.texastribune.org/2014/09/22/tribfest-one-on-one-with-patrick-van-de-putte/.
TribFest: One-on-One with George P. Bush
- by Evan Smith, The Texas Tribune
This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at http://www.texastribune.org/2014/09/22/tribfest-one-on-one-with-george-p-bush/.
Analysis: Contenders' Dreams of Political Buzzer Shots
- by Ross Ramsey, The Texas Tribune
Before every election, trailing candidates often start talking about winning campaigns of the past — from Abraham Lincoln to Ann Richards — that were running behind at this point and surged to victory. The candidates in front have the opposite view: Those turnarounds are nightmare material.
This recurrent idea — that something is going to save or ruin a campaign in its final weeks — has a kernel of truth at its center: What the voters are talking about in September is not always what is on their minds when it is time to vote.
It is sometimes the result of late news that changes the tenor of a race — the so-called October Surprise. Remember the stories about the 1976 drunken driving arrest of George W. Bush? Those landed just before the neck-and-neck 2000 election for president — an election that ultimately was decided by the United States Supreme Court and put Bush in office. Whatever else you can say about that one, you have to admit that it was a close race.
His father, President George Bush, lost his re-election bid to Bill Clinton in 1992. The late-breaker that time was the indictment of former Defense Secretary Caspar W. Weinberger. Maybe it made a difference and maybe it did not, but the timing raised Republican eyebrows — and tempers.
Richards won her nomination for Texas governor in 1990 after a brawl of a Democratic primary that reached one of several low spots in the days before her runoff against Jim Mattox, then the attorney general. Mattox accused her, on national TV, of using cocaine in the bathroom of an Austin hotel years before. Richards, a recovering alcoholic, refused to talk about the particulars of her substance abuse throughout that campaign, and Mattox’s late charge fell short.
But late news sealed the electoral fate of her Republican opponent in that year’s general election.
A campaign train that took Clayton Williams Jr. and a pack of supporters and reporters on a ride from San Antonio to Houston pulled into the Texas A&M graduate’s beloved College Station, a staged whistle-stop that conveniently put a building named for Williams right in the picture.
It was the Friday before the election, and Williams, a Republican, planned to ride the train to Houston, fly to Laredo for some Saturday campaigning and then end back in Houston going to church and then to a phone bank with the original President Bush. It was supposed to be a safe close to a wobbly campaign that had frittered away a large lead over Richards and turned what appeared to be an easy win into a real contest.
A gaggle of traveling reporters formed around Williams at the College Station stop, and one asked him whether he had paid income taxes — a subject Richards had been pressing as the campaign drew to a close. “Yes, I’ve paid lots of income tax, lots, lots,” he said. “I’ll tell you when I didn’t pay any income tax was 1986, when our whole economy collapsed.”
In a funny piece of timing, the Williams campaign and the Richards campaign happened to arrive at the same airport terminal at the same time that evening, and news of that gaffe traveled from one campaign to the other in those pre-cellphone days. It gave Richards a rallying point for that final weekend, and she won the race on the following Tuesday.
Sudden and unexpected things can change the political environment in a hurry. But they are called surprises for a reason, and if it was easy to plan something like this, voters would get a fresh thrill every two years.
Texas Republicans have been relatively successful in their attempts to make the 2014 election a referendum on the Obama administration and its policies — particularly on the Texas-Mexico border. That has created a headwind for Democrats in a state where they have not put together a statewide win since 1994.
Perhaps they can find some comfort in the federal election of 1864. The South had been winning battles in the Civil War. Voters were then in a habit of giving presidents one term. And the Democrats had George B. McClellan, former commander of the Army, as their candidate. Even Lincoln expected to lose.
But in September, Atlanta fell. And in November, voters chose Lincoln.
This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at http://www.texastribune.org/2014/09/22/analysis-contenders-dreams-political-buzzer-shots/.
Sunday, September 21, 2014
Saturday, September 20, 2014
Davis Intends to Use Executive Action, Veto Power if Elected
- by Aman Batheja, The Texas Tribune
If elected governor, state Sen. Wendy Davis would consider using “executive action” to expand the state's Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act in the face of likely opposition from a Republican-dominated state Legislature, she said Saturday in a wide-ranging interview at The Texas Tribune Festival.
“There’s some indication that an executive action can achieve this,” Davis told Tribune CEO and Editor-in-Chief Evan Smith. “Sometimes you have to do hard things when they’re the right things.”
Had Texas expanded Medicaid to cover more adults under federal health care reform, the federal government would have covered 100 percent of the cost for three years, eventually reducing its coverage to 90 percent. Davis criticized Republicans’ opposition to the offer, which she noted was projected to create as many as 300,000 jobs in the state.
“Once again, we’ve got people who are more interested in partisan rhetoric than being leaders for our state,” Davis said.
Davis spoke at length during the hourlong interview with Smith about her plans if she wins her race against Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott. She singled out two bills — a repeal of the state’s in-state tuition law for illegal immigrants and an “Arizona-style” immigration bill banning sanctuary cities — as measures she would veto if they reached her desk as governor.
Of the in-state tuition repeal, which has strong support among Republicans in the Texas Senate, Davis said she'd "veto it in a heartbeat."
Given the Legislature’s likely makeup next year, Davis said she was pessimistic that a measure to repeal the abortion restrictions she filibustered last year would ever make it to her desk, though she would sign it if it did. She said it was the same case for a bill that would put the state’s redistricting process under an independent commission,
Smith began the interview asking Davis about Friday’s televised debate with Abbott. He questioned why she didn’t respond to Abbott when he asked her at the debate if she regrets voting for President Obama.
“No, I don’t regret it,” Davis said. She suggested that she didn’t answer Abbott’s question at the time because she thought it wasn’t valid in the “context” of a gubernatorial debate.
“I thought it was striking that when he had the one opportunity to ask me a question, instead of asking me who I would be as governor, he asked me who I voted for for president,” Davis said.
On education, Davis revealed that she expects her proposal for a statewide pre-kindergarten program in Texas for 4-year-olds to cost $700 million, and plans for the service to be offered on a “sliding scale.”
“It matters because if we don’t invest in them, it will hurt our state economy in the future,” Davis said.
Davis was more circumspect when asked about a plan proposed by Democratic lieutenant governor candidate Leticia Van de Putte to tap the state’s Rainy Day Fund for $2 billion to subsidize community college tuition.
“I don’t feel like I understand enough about her particular plan,” Davis said, though she said she looked forward to seeing the Legislature consider it. Minutes later, her campaign tweeted from Davis’ account: “You won't find a bigger supporter of community college than me. #tribunefest”
Despite polls showing her trailing Abbott, Davis expressed confidence that she would win on Election Day. She noted that when she unseated state Sen. Kim Brimer, a Fort Worth Republican, in 2008, her campaign was trailing further at this point in the race than she currently is against Abbott. She also said the reaction she is seeing when she campaigns across Texas gives her confidence that pundits will be surprised by this year’s turnout and outcome.
“We have built an infrastructure of people who for the first time in a long time that their voices can really matter at the ballot box in a gubernatorial race in Texas,” Davis said.
During an audience question-and-answer portion of the event, one questioner noted Davis’ past criticism of Perry, particularly allegations of cronyism, and asked how Davis could launch a law firm with Brian Newby, Gov. Rick Perry’s former chief of staff. Davis and Newby launched Newby Davis in 2010.
“My law partner is no more the double twin to Rick Perry than I am to any other person,” Davis said. “He’s a fine upstanding human being. And again, because I believe in working in a bipartisan way, I’m very proud to work with a law partner who once served in a Republican administration in this state. … He is one of the finest human beings I’ve ever met in my life, and I’m proud to call him my law partner.”
Another questioner loudly asked Davis, “Why do you want to California my Texas, our Texas?” a line similar to one Abbott has lobbed at Davis.
Davis responded that the decision by Texas Republican leaders, and supported by Abbott, to turn down federal Medicaid dollars was sending Texas' tax dollars to California.
“That’s California-ing my Texas,” Davis said.
This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at http://www.texastribune.org/2014/09/20/davis-intends-use-executive-action-veto-power-if-e/.
Video: Patrick, Van de Putte at The Tribune Festival
- by Texas Tribune Staff, The Texas Tribune
This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at http://www.texastribune.org/2014/09/20/video-dan-patrick-and-leticia-van-de-putte/.
Friday, September 19, 2014
State Invites More Toll Roads Amid Signs of Resistance
- by Aman Batheja, The Texas Tribune
Even as billions of dollars in toll road projects are in various stages of development across Texas, state leaders say their home is still a hot spot for new toll projects.
That embrace was on full display this week at the International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association’s annual conference.
“You have come to what I would suggest is the mecca of innovation on transportation infrastructure,” Gov. Rick Perry said in a keynote address at the toll road industry’s annual event. More than 900 people from 18 countries attended it, said Patrick Jones, the association’s executive director.
Joe Weber, the Texas Department of Transportation’s executive director, echoed other state officials when he described tolling as “vital” to the state’s future mobility planning as Texas tries to close the gap on a road funding shortfall. The tax Texans pay on a gallon of gas — 38.4 cents — has not changed since 1993 even as road construction costs have risen sharply and cars have become more fuel efficient, reducing the amount of money raised. A state proposition on the November ballot, if it passes, is projected to raise a third of the agency’s $5 billion annual shortfall by diverting some tax revenue from oil and gas production to the state highway fund.
Throughout the four-day conference, various attendees dismissed
“It’s not like we’re turning money away that could be used to build non-tolled facilities,” said Mike Heiligenstein, the association’s president and executive director of the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority, which operates toll roads near Austin. “It just isn’t there.”
The conference took place about 20 miles from the State Highway 130 toll road, the southern portion of which is privately operated and sports the country’s fastest speed limit at 85 mph. In July, Moody’s Investment Service declared the SH 130 Concession Company, a partnership between Spain-based Cintra and San Antonio-based Zachry American Infrastructure, was in “technical default” because it had rescheduled a payment on $1.1 billion in debt.
Joseph Krier, chairman of the SH 130 Concession Company, said at the conference that traffic has come in below expectations but predicted that the road would eventually prove a wise investment as drivers look for an alternative to Interstate 35.
“We have a 50-year franchise on that road, and we are pretty confident that in the long term, this is going to be a huge transportation asset for the region,” Krier said. “I-35 is going to become a parking lot.”
Yet signs of a growing resistance to the state's increasing reliance on toll projects are emerging. In July, 12 elected officials representing North Texas’ Collin County signed a letter to the Transportation Department opposing a proposal to convert high-occupancy-vehicle lanes on United States Highway 75 to high occupancy toll lanes, in which vehicles with just a driver pay a toll but those carrying multiple passengers could drive for free or at a discount.
“There is a strong feeling in our communities that they are already paying too much for travel upon our roadways due to tolling of the three major highway corridors in Collin County,” the letter reads.
At a panel discussion titled “Texas: A Toll Industry Laboratory,” the letter was cited by Kenneth Barr, chairman of the North Texas Tollway Authority, as a cause for concern.
“We’re beginning to see some pushback on that,” Barr said. “The challenge is our region added a million people in the last six years. If that’s going to continue, we have to figure out how to build those roads. Without additional gas tax revenue, they’re going to have to be toll roads.”
Phineas Baxandall, a transportation analyst for the United States Public Interest Research Group, who was invited to speak at the conference as a tolling critic, said an increase in tolls dissuades the public from supporting an increase in the gas tax and can affect a community’s development in unexpected ways.
“Toll roads don’t just add new choices or benefits,” Baxandall said. “Like any other transportation project, they also foreclose choices and impose potential harms. This shouldn’t be discounted just because a transponder is involved.”
This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at http://www.texastribune.org/2014/09/19/texas-leaders-say-more-toll-roads-way/.
HPD Officer Helps Armadillo Cross Street During Flood [WATCH] | News 92 FM | Official Site for Houston News, Traffic, Weather, Breaking News
Thursday, September 18, 2014
Sunday, September 14, 2014
Texas Official: Meatless Monday 'Has No Place In Our Schools' Going vegetarian may be good for kids’ health and for the environment, but according to the agriculture commission, it’s a conspiracy.
Saturday, September 13, 2014
UT Austin Finally Launches Mexican American Studies Department The Huffington Post | By Roque Planas Email Posted: 09/10/2014 5:25 pm EDT Updated: 09/10/2014 5:59 pm EDT
Friday, September 12, 2014
Earlier LIVE AGAIN September 12, 2014 COMING UP MON 9:30 AM U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand LIVE COMING UP MON 10:00 AM How An Online Date Turned Into Fate COMING UP MON 11:30 AM Helping Your Child With Anxiety COMING UP MON 12:30 PM James Van Der Beek LIVE COMING UP MON 1:00 PM Actor Zachary Quinto LIVE COMING UP MON 2:30 PM Ray J LIVE COMING UP MON 3:30 PM Against Me!'s Laura Jane Grace LIVE COMING UP MON 4:00 PM Spoiler Alert COMING UP MON 4:30 PM Bebe Neuwirth & Zeljko Ivanek LIVE COMING UP TUES 1:00 PM Comedian Bill Hader LIVE Sign up for our daily newsletter and get the best of HuffPost Live straight to your inbox. Texas Gubernatorial Candidate Wendy Davis LIVE
Thursday, September 11, 2014
Davis' Abortion Draws Attention to New Restrictions
- by Jay Root, The Texas Tribune
The discussion is shedding light on a provision in the restrictive abortion legislation she tried in vain to stop last year — the part that bans abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, including in many cases when there are fetal abnormalities.
Neither the Davis campaign nor her opponent in the Texas governor’s race, Attorney General Greg Abbott, would discuss how the law might have impacted Davis had it been on the books years ago. Abbott, in a brief interview, would say only that severe fetal abnormalities are “covered” under the new law.
But leading abortion rights experts on both sides of the issue say a woman facing the same circumstance in Texas today — assuming it arose after the 20-week mark — probably would not be allowed to terminate her pregnancy.
That’s because women can invoke the fetal abnormality exemption only if it's determined that the fetus can’t survive outside the womb.
Davis wrote in her book, Forgetting to be Afraid, that doctors told her that her unborn daughter would “likely” not survive and that even if she did “she would probably be deaf, blind, and in a permanent vegetative state.”
But permanent disability, no matter how severe, doesn’t qualify as a reason to terminate a pregnancy under the new abortion law, which is known as House Bill 2. Texas is one of nine states that ban abortion at 20 weeks after fertilization. Supporters of the bans say a fetus can feel pain at that point, but many scientists dispute that. Opponents of the bans emphasize that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that a woman has a right to an abortion until the fetus is viable outside the womb, usually around 22 weeks after fertilization.
The Texas law provides exceptions to the 20-week abortion ban: when the life of the mother is at stake, and cases in which there are “severe fetal abnormalities.” It defines that fetal affliction as so serious that it’s “incompatible with life outside the womb.”
“If a child could continue to live but be in a vegetative state, then this section would not apply,” said Joe Pojman, director of the anti-abortion group Texas Alliance for Life. “If the child could continue to live after birth with all available medical treatment, then HB 2 would prevent an abortion.”
Another leading abortion foe agreed.
“Any time they say likely, that’s not a clear diagnosis,” said Carol Everett, founder and CEO of the Heidi Group, which helps pregnant girls and women. “According to the book, she does not meet the standard in HB 2 for fetal abnormality. Because they only said ‘likely.’ They didn’t say 'clearly.'”
Both Pojman and Everett said they don’t have enough information to say for sure how the law might have affected Davis had it been in effect when she terminated her pregnancy in 1997. A University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll last year found 62 percent of Texas registered voters support a 20-week abortion ban, while in 2014 another UT/TT Poll found that 57 percent of the respondents would allow abortion when there is a "strong chance of a serious defect in the baby."
Whether or not it's a popular idea, Pojman said his group believes that an unborn child with severe abnormalities should be afforded the same right to life as a newborn infant in the same condition.
While Davis has been promoting her book on national TV shows, the Davis campaign declined to make her available for an interview, and aides wouldn’t say Wednesday whether her abortion occurred after the 20-week mark or if the fetus would have met the narrowly crafted exceptions the new Texas abortion law allows today.
In a written statement, Davis spokesman Zac Petkanas said Davis considered the abortion a “personal tragedy” and has “not thought about the loss of her daughter in political terms.”
Abbott, meanwhile, told The Texas Tribune in a brief interview Wednesday that he couldn’t speak about Davis’ case in particular but pointed to the fetal abnormality exemption in the law.
“It would be inappropriate to speak to her situation. I'm not aware of all the details involved,” Abbott said. “In the scenario that there is severe fetal abnormality — that's a part of HB2. It's covered in HB2."
It’s not clear whether the exceptions in the law have allowed any late-term abortions to occur legally since the ban took effect last year. Before the law took effect, abortions after 20 weeks were already rare. Now advocates on both sides of the issue say the ban has either dramatically curtailed or stopped the practice altogether at abortion clinics.
One woman who discovered a severe abnormality in her fetus after the ban became law ended up going to Arkansas to get an abortion after hitting a series of dead ends in Texas, according to a riveting story this year in the Texas Observer.
The woman, when she was almost 20 weeks pregnant, was told her baby would either be stillborn or die soon thereafter, but still no one she contacted in Texas would perform the procedure, according to the report.
“I’m not aware of anyone past 20 weeks who’ve done this. The clinics aren’t doing them. They’re already under the microscope,” said Heather Busby, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, an Austin-based abortion rights group. “Most doctors are going to err on the side of 'I can’t risk this.' ”
Because the law provides for sanctions against medical providers who perform abortions in violation of the 20-week ban, she said women who invoke the fetal abnormality exception are likely to hit a wall of resistance no matter what the facts are.
“This is having a chilling effect on physicians,” Busby said. “So I think it would be difficult to do.”
Texas Tribune reporter Christine Ayala contributed to this story.
This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at http://www.texastribune.org/2014/09/11/davis-97-abortion-might-be-impossible-today/.
FOLLOW Jon Stewart's Post-9/11 Daily Show Was Tearful, Hopeful & Amazing 10,98924 morninggloria Erin Gloria Ryan ProfileFollow Erin Gloria Ryan Filed to: 9/11 SEPTEMBER 11TH TRAGEDY THE DAILY SHOW JON STEWART Today 5:20pm
Wednesday, September 10, 2014
Annise Parker, Office of the Mayor | City of Houston Government Official · 17,435 Likes · 7 hrs · A library card is your link to the rest of the world and every child should have one. With the start of the new school year, I know students will have major projects and daily assignments to complete. Whether you have research to conduct for a term paper or simply want to delve into the latest bestseller, the Houston Public Library is the place to find it. http://www.houstongovnewsroom.org/go/doc/2155/2239790/
Playlist Rachel Maddow RACHEL MADDOW 09/09/14 Wendy Davis seeks to rouse dormant Democratic giant in Texas Wendy Davis, Texas state senator and Democratic gubernatorial candidate, talks with Rachel Maddow about the long neglected Democratic voting base that she champions in Texas, and why she chose now to go public with her own abortion stories.
Tuesday, September 9, 2014
RACHEL MADDOW 09/09/14 An exclusive with Wendy Davis tonight Cory Gnazzo, executive producer for The Rachel Maddow Show, previews Tuesday night’s show including an exclusive interview with Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis, her first cable news interview since the publication of her memoir.
Monday, September 8, 2014
Cannibal Corpse Blasting From Papal Apartment Window2:29 I-90 adds a lane for drivers traveling cross country to stop a woman from marrying the wrong man, a job applicant totally nails an interview with the person who will make his life a living hell for the next five years, and adjusting several sliders on a r...
Sunday, September 7, 2014
Unidentified Respiratory Virus Likely to Hit Kids Across Country Sep 7, 2014, 5:53 PM ET By GILLIAN MOHNEY and DEAN SCHABNER DEAN SCHABNER More From Dean » Dean Schabner Weekend Manager/Editor GILLIAN MOHNEY More From Gillian » Digital Reporter via GOOD MORNING AMERICA
Saturday, September 6, 2014
Items Frozen in Time at Old Stagecoach Stop Go Up for Auction | News 92 FM | Official Site for Houston News, Traffic, Weather, Breaking News
Abortion Opponents: Davis Disclosure Changes Nothing
Reacting to news that state Sen. Wendy Davis had two abortions for medical reasons, including one because brain damage was detected in her unborn child, Texas’ leading anti-abortion groups reiterated their opposition to the termination of pregnancies, including ones where severe disabilities can be detected in a fetus.
“We do not favor or advise abortion in cases when the unborn child has disabilities, just as we cannot advocate taking the life of a newly born child who has severe disabilities,” Joe Pojman, executive director of Texas Alliance for Life, said in a statement.
Melissa Conway, a spokeswoman for Texas Right to Life, agreed. “Regardless of how severe or hopeless a diagnosis may be, the dignity of life remains unaltered by disability and disappointment."
"We feel sympathy for Sen. Davis for the loss of the two unborn children," Pojman said.
Davis, who gained national attention because of her 11-hour filibuster in 2013 against proposed abortion restrictions, revealed in her memoir that she had two abortions for medical reasons, including a second trimester termination in 1997 because of brain damage detected in the fetus. The book, Forgetting to Be Afraid, officially goes on sale next week, but The Texas Tribune obtained a copy Friday evening.
Abortion supporters immediately applauded Davis’ candor about her own experience and praised the Democratic nominee for Texas governor.
“Wendy Davis’s personal story resonates with bravery and honesty, and it is one of many,” Heather Busby, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, said in a statement. “Every pregnancy is different, and all options must be available to ensure the health and safety of families, without lawmakers making decisions that don’t belong to them.
Davis’ first abortion was performed in 1994 after her doctor told her and her husband at the time, Jeff Davis, that she had an ectopic pregnancy, which occurs when an embryo implants outside the uterus and can result in death of the mother.
"The only medical option was to have surgery to terminate the pregnancy and remove the affected fallopian tube — which in Texas is technically considered an abortion, and doctors have to report it as such," Davis wrote in her book.
Conway, with Texas Right to Life, said that in the case of ectopic pregnancies, "the life of the mother must be preserved whenever both lives cannot be saved."
Davis said when she became pregnant in 1997, her doctor said during her second trimester that the fetus had an acute brain abnormality called Dandy-Walker syndrome, a diagnosis used to describe a series of brain malformations that occurs approximately once in every 35,000 live births.
Davis wrote that after their doctor "quieted" the baby, who Davis and her husband had named Tate, she delivered the baby by cesarean section. The next day, she wrote, "we asked an associate minister from our church who was a trusted friend to come and baptize her. We took photographs of her. And we said our goodbyes."
Conway said women who find out before they give birth that their children will be disabled should not abort them.
"Texas Right to Life encourages women facing difficult or unexpected diagnoses to carry their children to term, celebrate the precious baby's life, and, if needed, provide life-sustaining care to the child until he or she reaches the point of natural death,” she said.
The revelations about Davis' two abortions come seven weeks before Davis faces Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, the gubernatorial frontrunner and Republican nominee, in the Nov. 4 election.
Abbott expressed his sympathy for the Davis family in a statement Saturday.
"The unspeakable pain of losing a child is beyond tragic for any parent,” Abbott said. “As a father, I grieve for the Davis family and for the loss of life."
Davis’ disclosure also comes at a time when a lawsuit against some of the same restrictions she fought last summer has reached a federal appeals court.
In a lawsuit brought forth by the Center for Reproductive Rights, attorneys representing a coalition of Texas abortion providers seek to block a key provision of House Bill 2 that could shutter all but a few abortion facilities in the state.
The provision would require abortion facilities to meet the same standards as hospital-like ambulatory surgical centers, including minimum sizes for rooms and doorways and additional infrastructure like pipelines for anesthesia.
The providers’ attorneys have argued that the final provision of HB2 would impose unconstitutional barriers for women seeking the procedure, leaving women in west or south of San Antonio anywhere from 150 to 500 miles away from a Texas abortion facility.
State attorneys contend that the abortion law seeks to protect women’s safety and that there isn’t enough evidence to prove that the abortion law creates an “undue burden” for the majority of Texas women seeking abortions — the standard needed to prove the new rules unconstitutional.
Days before the provision was set to go into effect this month, U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel of the District Court for the Western District of Texas ruled in favor of the abortion providers and struck down the requirement.
The case is set to be heard by the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, which could overturn Yeakel’s ruling, in the coming months.
Pojman, of Texas Alliance for Life, also pointed out that HB 2 would not have prevented either of Davis’ abortions.
“HB 2 does not ban abortions before the fifth month of pregnancy,” he said.
This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at http://www.texastribune.org/2014/09/06/abortion-opponent-says-davis-disclosure-changes-no/.
Video: Davis Tells ABC News About Her Abortion
- by John Jordan, The Texas Tribune
In an exclusive interview with ABC News' Robin Roberts, Texas Democratic gubernatorial nominee Wendy Davis talks about her "difficult decision" to have an abortion in 1996, when doctors told her the baby had severe brain abnormalities and would be deaf, blind and in a permanent vegetative state. Davis also reveals that two years before, under doctors' advice, she terminated an ectopic pregnancy.
Davis came to national prominence following her 11-hour filibuster in 2013 of an omnibus abortion bill before the Texas Legislature. The bill later passed.
The full interview will air Monday morning on ABC News' "Good Morning America." Davis' memoir, "Forgetting To Be Afraid," goes on sale Tuesday.
This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at http://www.texastribune.org/2014/09/06/video-davis-tells-abc-news-about-her-abortion/.
Friday, September 5, 2014
Malala Fund 19 hrs · What does (or did) your daily trip to school look like? As Malala and many other students head back to school this week, it's a good time to remember that many children overcome unbelievable obstacles just to get to school. It's up to us to make sure great schools meet them when they get there.