Stand with Texas Women bus tour draws crowd at Fort Worth stop

Diane SmithFort Worth Star-Telegram

FORT WORTH — A crowd of more than 1,400 women’s advocates gathered in Fort Worth on Wednesday to take a stand for reproductive rights.

The activists formed a sea of orange as they greeted Texas Sen. Wendy Davis and other lawmakers at CWA Local 6201 at 421 S. Adams St. in Fort Worth.

“I want you to be angry and remember,” Davis said after referring to her filibuster, which helped stop a bill that would further regulate abortions.

“It was the people’s filibuster that killed that terrible piece of legislation,” Davis said.

The Fort Worth rally highlighted a day of bus touring in North Texas in support of reproductive rights and women’s healthcare. The Planned Parenthood Action Fund’s Stand with Texas Women tour kicked off Tuesday at the Capitol in Austin.

It stopped in Houston on Tuesday, where it garnered a crowd of about 1,000. About 150 people showed up at Dallas City Hall on Wednesday morning to participate.

Ken Lambrecht, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Greater Texas, said 1,437 people attended the Fort Worth rally — the second-largest crowd the tour has drawn.

Lambrecht said the group continues to speak out against the pending law in Austin.

“Right now, we are still fighting,” he said.

The tour is expected to continue making stops statewide with advocates and Planned Parenthood supporters. Stops are planned in the Rio Grande Valley and El Paso.

The bus tour stressed support for women’s healthcare programs and noted that Texas ranks low in offering prenatal care. Rally participants criticized Gov. Rick Perry and state lawmakers for forcing more than 55 women’s health centers to close.

Planned Parenthood estimates that 130,000 women a year in Texas can no longer get medical care. Supporters of the organization stress that if the abortion bill passes, dozens more healthcare centers will close.

The tour came after Democrats had asked for statewide hearings on the abortion bill but were told that it wasn’t practical.

Democratic Reps. Lon Burnam, Nicole Collier and Chris Turner were among the rally speakers. Two Planned Parenthood patients also spoke about the need for women to have access to healthcare.

Participants said they want lawmakers to protect women’s health. They were drawn to the rally after watching reports about the bill on the news and on social media.

“I am here because we fought for women’s rights a long time ago and we’ve seen them go backwards,” said Cindy Simpkins, 53, of Fort Worth.

Sandy Ryan, 61, of Bedford said she wanted to show support.

“We’ve got to get something done about what Texas is doing to women’s rights,” Ryan said.

Davis and the crowd wore orange clothing, which has become a symbol of the movement. T-shirts and signs urged people to “Stand with Texas Women.”

Some signs called for Davis to run for governor — an issue she sidestepped during questioning by reporters.

“We obviously have our hands full of work right now, and there is a lot to be fighting for these next few days,” Davis said.

“When we have time to pull our head up from that and think about what the future looks like, I will give serious thought to that. But I can’t predict right now whether that will be a decision that’s right for me or that I believe will be right for the state of Texas,” she said.

This report includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.

Diane Smith
Fort Worth Star-Telegram