Abortion battle now puts focus on women
AUSTIN, Texas - When it comes to the abortion battle in Texas, the focus is no longer on the clinics, it has shifted toward women.
It's an issue that both pro-choice and pro-life advocates can agree on, that no one should be forced into having an abortion.
What they don't agree on, is how help should be given.
Toni Mckinley has four children whom she adores, but the process of being a mother wasn't always so easy.
She first got pregnant with her boyfriend when she was 18.
"I was absolutely thrilled and excited. I dreamed of a little boy running around, his plans were different than mine. I endured just daily threats, not threats of violence, but threats against who I am and what I can be as a person," says Toni Mckinley, mother.
She says the constant abuse forced her to go to an abortion clinic.
That's the one place she thought she could get help.
"I believed that the doctors and nurses would be there to help me with my decision of wanting to keep this baby. I was still very scared and when I went in there, my wishes were not honored and I was ignored," says Mckinley.
Mckinley told her story Wednesday to state lawmakers.
Representative Molly White filed House Bill 1648, also known as the Coerced Abortion Prevention Bill.
It aims to protect victims forced to terminate a pregnancy.
"It's very degrading, it's very humiliating, it's very hurtful for her to go through something like that when she really doesn't want to but she's buckling under pressure and doesn't know she can get help somewhere else. We want to make sure that all those resources are available to her," says Representative Molly White, (R) Belton.
Under the bill, if a woman indicates she has been coerced, there would be a waiting period before she can have an abortion, possibly 48 hours.
There would also be signs posted inside every room of the abortion clinic offering help to victims.
Something that Fatimah Gifford with Whole Woman's Health says is not needed.
"It may increase the silence and the uncomfortability for her to say yes. Or it may scare her to not talk and go through the procedure anyway. Or to stay in a situation where she may be abused. It just absolutely doesn't make sense because there's already safeguards in place right now," says Fatimah Gifford, Whole Woman's Health.
She says clinics already ask women in several different ways if they are being coerced into an abortion.
They also work with safe houses and domestic violence organizations when someone does come forward.
For people like Mckinley, she says her voice was not heard.
"If they asked me if I was being coerced or forced, I would have said heck yea, get me help. That's exactly what I was there looking for. I was not at all there to get an abortion," says Mckinley.
The bill is still being amended.
They hope to have it finalized over the next few days and then present it again to the committee.