Today marks one year since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, stripping women of their fundamental right to bodily autonomy. This decision turned back the clock half a century. It saddens and angers me that my three young daughters are growing up with fewer rights than their grandmothers.
On this one-year anniversary, I urge you not to let the passage of time dull your convictions. The consequences of the Dobbs decision are a matter of life and death, and we cannot afford to remain silent.
Reflecting on my two traumatic miscarriages and the medical care I needed at a hospital, it terrifies me to think of the very real danger women face in this Texas. It is unacceptable that in the year 2023 women need to be bleeding to a near-death state at home before they can access care they need. It is unacceptable that Texas even forces victims of rape and incest to move forward with their pregnancies. It is unacceptable that a predominately male-led legislature and Supreme Court have decided that women are not allowed to make choices about their own bodies.
The bottom line is that we cannot afford to turn back the clock on the progress that generations before us fought so hard to achieve.
This issue should not be a battle of pro-choice vs. pro-life. And, I say this as a proud Christian woman. It is a battle for healthcare, for equality, and for the liberty to make decisions about our own bodies, regardless of gender.
We also cannot ignore the stark disparities that the Dobbs decision exacerbates.
In Harris County — even before Dobbs and despite being home to the top medical complex in the world — the maternal mortality rate was already higher than the rates in Texas and the United States. The rate for Black mothers was especially stark, with Black women three times more likely to die than any other group.
We do not yet know the full impact Dobbs will have on these numbers. Yet, one thing is clear: it will only worsen these unjust realities and disparities. Traveling over 300 miles to seek abortion care may be a possibility for some, but for many, it is an insurmountable financial burden.
This is why we must recommit ourselves to relentlessly fight for equality and progress. We must stand firm in our resolve to forge a future that guarantees our daughters a world where their rights are protected, where their voices are amplified, and where they can live full lives unhindered by these archaic, draconian restrictions.
While some aim to drag us backwards, we will continue moving forward in Harris County.
We have invested $6 million in federal dollars to create a Reproductive Healthcare Access Fund to increase the use of preventative screenings and access to reproductive care for low-income, uninsured Harris County women. We also invested $7.7 million in federal funding to establish the Maternal and Child Health Program – with a targeted program for Black mothers. We will also continue to support the work of the Harris Health System and Harris County Public Health to leverage hundreds of millions of dollars for family planning services.
Above all, we cannot lose hope. This fight is not only about reproductive rights for women and the need to recognize that women are equal citizens under the law. It is also about fighting for and valuing the fundamental rights, dignity, and equality of every person.
Together, we can — and will — secure this future for our children.
All my best, Lesley Briones