A few weeks ago a defining moment for the pro-life movement took place in Austin, Texas. Our fight to protect the thousands of babies killed daily by abortion, and the women whose lives are forever scarred because of it, was forever changed because of the passing of HB2 in both the Texas House and Senate. It was a week that will go down in history as one that not only changed the laws of Texas, but that will affect the abortion debate around the United States for years to come. What was it like to be in the Capitol of Texas at such a historic moment? Stand True was so excited to send three of our full time interns to Texas for the week to be part of everything going on, and this is the story of their experience:
Being an intern with Stand True, I knew that I would have some challenging experiences this summer, especially when dealing with pro-abortion advocates face-to-face. What I did not expect, however, was to be able to be a part of the historic passing of HB2 in Austin, TX. Luckily for myself, Rebecca Gabryel, and Kacki Jorgensen, we were very aptly prepared, due to our training, for the series of events that preceded the passing of the bill.
The week before the passing of HB2 began with the Stand4Life rally on the steps of the Texas Capitol around 8pm on Monday night. The three of us arrived at the rally with the group we drove with, Students For Life, and found our different spots among the crowd. All of the pro-lifers were in blue, and from above it looked as if there was an ocean of people, standing for life, at the Texas Capitol. Unfortunately, behind this sea, there was a large crowd of pro-abortion individuals, dressed in various shades of orange, showing their disdain for those in blue. The rally kicked off, with a number of well-known pro-life politicians and public figures there to speak in defense of the bill. It was an inspiring event, knowing that each and every person around us supported life like we did. We felt powerful and united in our cause, and it was a beautiful moment. Then the pro-abort shouts came. This was our first real encounter with vocal pro-aborts, and we were a little taken aback by it, because they were being rude and extremely malicious. These people continued with their yelling throughout the entire rally, saying various statements and phrases, but every time they were drowned out by the roar of the pro-life crowd, to the point that they seemed to give up by the end. The rally was encouraging to us, and made us three interns excited for the rest of the week. Thankfully we were able to work out staying with Abby Johnson, who is a close friend of our boss. For the rest of the week she drove us to and from the Capitol, explaining to us the ins and outs of the legislative process, and giving us advice on how to handle the pro-abortion protesters.
On Tuesday we spent some time with her watching the reading and subsequent debates on the bill. After watching this for about an hour, Rebecca, Kacki, and I joined up with some students that had been on the bus with us, and participated in the Students For Life “Project Planned Parenthood” event. This consisted of us setting up banners outside the Capitol, which explained the truth about Planned Parenthood. We also wore red “LIFE” tape across our mouths as a sign of solidarity for the 39 babies killed every hour by Planned Parenthood. This event only lasted about two hours, and when it ended the three of us from Stand True decided to make our way to the Rotunda of the Capitol, knowing that the pro-abortion protesters were planning a rally at 6:00pm. We arrived at the Rotunda, and found ourselves surrounded by countless people, all in orange, getting ready for their rally. We started out observing from one of the higher balconies of the Rotunda, and were able to see just how many pro-aborts there were in orange. The rally began with these individuals shouting various phrases and chants including “Pro-life, that’s a lie, they don’t care if women die”, and “Our bodies, our lives, our right to decide”. About halfway through the rally, we noticed that there were some people in blue, kneeling and praying. After seeing them we knew that we had to join and support them in prayer, so we made our way down. Once we got to where they were, we too kneeled and began praying, which only made the pro-aborts more animated and angry with our presence. While praying they began focusing their yelling at us, shouting first “Not the church, Not the State”, then “!%$! the church, Not the State” directly at us. This was both shocking and saddening at the same time. We continued to pray, asking God for His protection, wisdom, and compassion for these people, despite their very obvious verbal attack on us, until their rally ended. It was after that encounter that the three of us very clearly understood that this fight to pass the bill was not only political, but spiritual as well. After the rally ended, we were physically, mentally, and spiritually exhausted, and went home with Abby.
Wednesday started out fairly uneventful. The three of us went with Abby to the Capitol and noticed that there were not very many orange-clad pro-aborts as there were previously. We expected it to be a quiet day, and decided to go and sit in the gallery in the Senate to watch the debates on the bill. About 20 minutes into watching the debate, a pro-abortion woman suddenly stood up and began screaming obscenities at the senators on the floor. Another woman quickly joined her, and they were soon arrested by the DPS officers. We later learned that multiple women were arrested following the others’ outbursts, and multiple pro-aborts were found attempting to bring in jars of feces and urine, as well as bricks and containers of fake blood. After leaving the gallery, we spent the rest of the day walking around and connecting with other pro-lifers at the Capitol. It was also spent updating our Stand True team back in Ohio about the events that were taking place.
Thursday was our social media day. We were fortunate enough to have free Wi-Fi so that we could upload and send the pictures and videos taken from within the various rallies to Bryan. We also spent this day attempting to process what we had experienced, as well as enter into prayer about possible future incidents the week might bring. As a team, Rebecca, Kacki and I went over our different strategies that we knew had worked, along with some things that we could improve upon when it came to handling the tough situations of the week. This day allowed us to analyze what had already happened, as well as prepare for what had yet to occur. It also allowed us to get in contact with Bryan, who made sure we were staying focused and on track in the midst of all the chaos.
That preparation absolutely aided us in dealing with the most challenging day of all, Friday. We all knew that it was going to be a rough day the moment we stepped foot in the Capitol. There were orange shirts literally everywhere. The pro-aborts were out in full force, and were visibly getting ready for a rally they had planned at 8pm that night. The atmosphere in the building can only be described as strained, at best. As a group, with Abby, we spent some time in the Rotunda, somehow getting a spot in the middle among the pro-aborts, praying intently. The entire area was packed, shoulder to shoulder, with orange shirts, and small pockets of blue. Everyone was tense, with some people shouting, and others praying. After we were done with our prayers, we left and went to a room where we could watch the debates on the bill on a TV screen. After a couple hours of watching these, we were given a room location where we could watch it privately, and safely, since the pro-aborts were becoming increasingly aggressive. The room we were given happened to be the Lt. Governor’s, and inside were various pro-lifers watching and waiting. After getting settled in among the 10 or so other individuals, Rebecca and myself decided to go back out to the Rotunda to see if there were any new developments with the crowd. We recognized the same blue shirted pro-lifers in the middle, refusing to give up their spot to the pro-aborts, still praying. We knew we had to go help them, especially since the crowd was now even more irate because of the possibility of HB2 being passed. We very cautiously made our way to the middle, and began praying with them. This made the pro-aborts surrounding us so livid that they began screaming, just inches, from the faces of us praying. They were filled with such hatred and revulsion for us, simply because we were praying and not backing down. After some time enduring this, Rebecca and I noticed the crowd getting worse, and we no longer felt safe enough to stay. We returned to the Lt. Governor’s office, explaining to everyone what we had experienced. Another couple of hours went by, and the bill progressed more and more in the debates and readings. During this time multiple people had come into the room, seeking safety from the enraged pro-abort crowd in the Rotunda. With almost 20 people in the room, and about a half hour until the final vote on HB2, Rebecca, myself, and about 2 others from the room made the decision to return to the upper level of the Rotunda to capture on video the reactions of the mob when the bill passed. We carefully got to the top of the Rotunda, and saw that almost all pro-lifers in blue had left. On the top level we felt safe enough to stay, and had our cameras ready to record the ensuing events. After waiting and watching, with only a few minutes until the final vote, the crowd increased their chanting to an inaudible, deafening volume. Rebecca got word that a pro-abort had just been caught attempting to bring a semi-automatic weapon into the Capitol. It was then that we knew that we were no longer safe anywhere but in the Lt. Governor’s room, and so we hastily made our way back.
When we arrived in the room, and were finally able to take a breath and relax a little, we noticed that the closing statements were on, and so everyone in the room became silent and listened intently. When they were finished, and just minutes before midnight, the final vote was taken, and with a 19-11 count, HB2 was passed. The entire room erupted into joyful yelling, high-fiving and hugging. It was such an amazing feeling knowing that all that everyone had been through and done was not in vain, and that we essentially had won. It was even better knowing that all of us shared the knowledge that this win was not for us, but for the vulnerable unborn children in Texas.
Our amazing Stand True / Priests for Life Missionaries in Austin Texas to #stand4life posted this video of pro-aborts being arrested for disrupting the house. They are angry because we are WINNING!
Here is another Video that went viral called All Hell Breaks Loose
Here are some still shots