Words by Abigail Vela
We last left off in 2022 with the overturning of Roe v. Wade in July. This unfortunate decision resulted in community protests and efforts throughout the Rio Grande Valley.
Local organizers South Texans for Reproductive Justice (STRJ), Frontera Fund, Touching Infinite, and Outinthe956 (to name a few) hosted fundraising events for abortion access and reproductive care throughout the year.
Not long after, more upsetting news followed. Despite efforts by STRJ to keep a hold of the McAllen building after Whole Woman’s Health’s (WWH) departure, the disappointing news spread that the building was sold to the anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers – the very people that STRJ and other activists fought so hard against during WWH’s time in the RGV.
These bleak times leave little room for hope, but that little room for hope is all we need to continue the fight for human rights.
While Republicans continue to attack abortion rights and access to reproductive healthcare, Democrats are not being held accountable for their failure to keep their promise to protect our rights. “I loved what I did,” Brownsville’s Democratic politician Eddie Lucio said after retiring from his 30-year run in the Senate this month. Ironically, Lucio has voted against the fight on reproductive rights, voting for anti-abortion legislation for over a decade of his time, which include the controversial “Heartbeat Bill” and trigger ban post-Roe v. Wade. His term has created nothing but waves of resentment within a party that fights for the very rights he opposes.
Similarly, Democratic US State Representative Henry Cuellar is known as the most conservative and anti-abortion democrat in the House. Cuellar represents South Texas’ 28th District, which covers parts of San Antonio and Laredo, and has been vocal against reproductive rights, actively worked towards defunding Planned Parenthood in 2015, and voted against the Women’s Health Protection Act in 2021, to name a few instances.
These two politicians are examples of people who may seem like they are for a specific set of values but, ultimately, fall short of protecting and go against the rights of the people who choose to vote for their more progressive constituents. Put simply, they are wolves in sheep’s clothing. This begs the question: Do these Democrats deserve to be in a position of power when they don’t stand for the very values the party itself strives to fight for?
This past Sunday, January 22nd, people all over the country marched for what would’ve been Roe v. Wade’s 50th anniversary. Vice-President Kamala Harris spoke in Tallahassee, Florida, stating, “We will not back down. We know this fight will not be won until we secure this right for every American. Congress must pass a bill that protects freedom and liberty.”
Planned Parenthood South Texas hosted a repro health pop-up at La Chicharra Studio in Brownsville on Saturday, January 21st. The event consisted of speakers such as Senator Morgan LaMantia, Frontera Fund, and STRJ, as well as the distribution of free emergency contraception and safe sex educational information. STRJ welcomed their incoming board president, Noemi Pratt, who released a statement expressing, “It feels like a paradox that at the 50-year anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, our country has no legal access to abortion in about half of its states, and for the RGV, the closest abortion clinic is roughly 800 miles away including two border patrol checkpoints… Although it may seem like we have a lot of work ahead of us, we stand on the foundation built for us by our ancestors… We are still in this fight.”
You may have noticed a few quotes from people with uteruses who continue to stand for abortion rights scattered throughout. These are the thoughts that continue to echo into the history we are writing for ourselves and our Rio Grande Valley. May we continue to fight for what’s right and stand on the right side of history.