Jeffrey Toobin for The New Yorker: Letter from Austin, "Daughters of Texas"

August 5th, 2013

The New Yorker
by Jeffrey Toobin
August 5, 2013

This summer, after the Texas legislature took up a bill to restrict abortion rights, competing demonstrations roiled the state Capitol. Opponents of the new law often drew twice as many people as its supporters. Austin, after all, gave sixty per cent of its votes to Barack Obama last year. Planned Parenthood and its allies pressed their home-field advantage. In June, the group’s local organizers decided that they needed at least a thousand T-shirts—and they could find them only in burnt orange, the color of the University of Texas Longhorns. By the second week of July, the shirts were everywhere in town, and Planned Parenthood rented a pair of tour buses, wrapped them in the same shade, and turned them into rolling billboards bearing the words “Stand with Texas Women.” The first bus was nicknamed Maggie, for Margaret Sanger, the birth-control pioneer, and the second was called Ann, for Ann Richards, the former Texas governor and the mother of Planned Parenthood’s current president, Cecile Richards.

One recent morning, Maggie was positioned on the east side of the Capitol as a backdrop for a news conference-cum-rally, led by Richards, to kick off a cross-state tour sponsored by Planned Parenthood. (A smaller group of abortion opponents, dressed in blue, claimed the south side of the building for a prayer service.) Richards is tall and thin, and her hair is nearly as distinctive as her mother’s famous white bouffant; Cecile’s cut is more blond than white, worn short, and she’s constantly tucking stray pieces behind her ear. Decked out in an orange dress, hastily acquired for the occasion, she led a group of state legislators, as well as a patient of Planned Parenthood, a student, and a local doctor, in speaking before a crowd of about two hundred.

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