Since I joined NARAL Pro-Choice Texas as executive director nearly three years ago, I’ve thought every day about how we can boldly show up for the people in our state who need abortions.
I’ve thought often of the young woman who testified at the People’s Filibuster that her abortion enabled her to address her mental illness. Despite being raised by an abortion provider, despite being one of the 1 in 4 women who will have an abortion in her lifetime, despite being an advocate in the abortion rights movement, I had succumbed to the stigma that has been perpetuated since abortion became legal. That abortion was not health care, but something to be ashamed of. I used euphemisms like pro-choice, or reproductive health care, when I meant abortion care. I never told my story, but told the story of my dad’s work as an abortion provider and his heroism.
That woman’s story was my story and hearing her bravely tell her truth, despite the stigma, despite anti-abortion zealots, despite anti-abortion legislators trying to take that right away from Texans, changed my life and led me on a different trajectory.
The reality is that the majority of Texans and Americans believe that abortion should be safe and legal, and we need to start doing the work like we truly believe this sentiment. As abortion care becomes more restricted, and we face an anti-abortion majority on the Supreme Court, our current political reality demands that we be bold and abortion-forward in our fight to protect access.
To avow means to declare openly, bluntly, and without shame. Now more than ever, our state needs bold and unapologetic advocacy for abortion rights, and with that we are excited to announce that NARAL Pro-Choice Texas is now Avow.
At Avow, we’re working for a better Texas, where every person is trusted, thriving, and free to pursue the life they want. That’s why it’s our mission to secure unrestricted abortion care and reproductive rights for all Texans. We are changing the culture in Texas so that we can start developing and passing policies from a place of freedom and compassion, instead of fear and stigma. The existing restrictions on abortion care rely on and reinforce white supremacy, oppression, and misogyny. Anti-abortion extremism is about telling people how they can and can’t live their lives, and limiting Texans’ futures. When we fight for unrestricted abortion access, we are fighting for our families, our communities, our futures, and our freedom.
We are proud to avow that everybody has a place in this movement, especially those who’ve been historically marginalized: transgender and nonbinary folks, people of color, young people, and people who have abortions.
We believe that in order to win the longterm fight for abortion rights, we have to be bold, to not compromise on our values for political convenience, and to center the voices of Texans impacted by abortion restrictions, who are more likely to be people of color and people working to make ends meet. We believe that “culture change” work is just as important as political and electoral work and that we can’t successfully win a fight for abortion rights in the long term without pushing the boundaries of both. In Austin we, along with our allies, helped pass a city budget initiative that funds practical support for abortion care, and recently we increased that initiative to $250,000. This was possible because when it was suggested that we substitute the word “abortion” with “reproductive health care,” we stood our ground.
At Avow, we’ve made a commitment to educating legislators and having bold, unapologetic conversations about abortion. We do this so that candidates and elected officials can use medically accurate and bold abortion rights language and policy, instead of the vague and stigmatizing language that is far too common in our current political movements. We’ve made clear that this is what we need from the folks vying for our votes and representing us in the legislature. By building on this work and building our collective power, we’re working toward a future of bold, unapologetic abortion access in the halls of the Capitol and beyond.
For years, we’ve been on the ground fighting to make abortion accessible because we know that legality alone is not enough. Southern and red states like Texas have been the most resilient and creative in fighting back against restrictions, and we will tap into that resiliency as we embark on this new journey as Avow. Georgia showed us what’s possible when we lead with our values and our faith—I know we can do the same in Texas.