Because of the reproductive rights controversy in Texas I asked several women who are in the midst of it all to share their perspective. It's my hope that we can take a minute to form our own opinion and invest in educating ourselves about current events. Thanks to Jess Sides for today's contribution

I am a liberal living in Texas.
And I'm not in Austin. Which makes me even rarer than you’d think, but I landed in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex in 2000 and have been here since. Being a liberal in Texas is strange. The thing about Texas – which you don’t get when you watch the news or listen to the anecdotes about rednecks - is that Texas is a very friendly place. It took me years to get used to people just saying Hi to me. I grew up on the East Coast, right outside of DC on the Virginia edge; no one over there smiles, or waves, or starts up conversations in shopping lines. Texans do all those things. I like that part about Texas.  It also means however, that if you let slip in a conversation anywhere, with anyone, something that Texans find comment worthy that they will indeed comment. I am not so fond of this part of Texas.
Once, I was in a class speaking to a Professor whom I knew to be Liberal as well about a Rand Paul rally. I thought the room had been empty. It was not, and the man who was in fact there followed me across campus for forty five minutes to argue with me about abortion. That scared me, not because I was sure he was going to hurt me but because I didn’t know how to make him stop and leave me alone without causing a scene.
This wasn’t the first time that my politics have put me in a somewhat precarious position, and I am sure it won’t be the last.
There was the girl in my US Government class in November ’08 who, upon finding out I was a liberal, put her hands on my very pregnant body and told me that Obama wanted to kill my child. That one was more infuriating than frightening, and while I told her to take her hands off of me, I didn’t feel comfortable engaging her in front of a class full of people who all seemed to agree with her. There was a Professor who, when he found out my politics through class discussion, called me his ‘favorite little Communist’ for the entire semester. That was one of the more degrading experiences I have had - I could feel the patronizing contempt radiating out of him every time he said it, yet I was afraid to report him to the Dean of Students with my grade hanging in the balance. That fear of reprisal was paralyzing, demoralizing.  However, in spite of all that, I can’t say that I have ever felt truly afraid for my safety - simply made very uncomfortable by a lot of people who were sure that they could change my mind.
These constant pressures to watch my words, to monitor my situation and the overwhelming social campaign to change my views have left me pretty embittered towards Texas State politics. I, like most others, considered Texas a deep red state and never bothered with midterm elections or even a gubernatorial election during the fifteen years I’ve been here (I originally moved to West Texas in 1998 and then over to DFW in 2000). I took it for matter-of-course when we elected Republican after Republican and though I voted in National elections, I never even bothered to look at the rest of the ballot, especially after a cursory glance showed me that a lot of positions didn’t even have a opposition candidate for the Republican nominee.
After the 2012 election of President Obama, the DNC issued a release that they would be trying to turn Texas into a battleground state. I welcomed the effort, yet ultimately found that somehow, I wasn’t all that moved or interested. I have lived in Texas long enough to have been told that Hillary Clinton is a Lesbian Satanist. I have been called a baby killer to my face.  In the face of that, I couldn’t see enough of us out there to make a difference.  So I kept my head down and my mouth shut when it wasn’t safe, and I lived my life as best I could, reading and talking about politics only when I was sure it wouldn’t affect my academic career or endanger myself or my kids.
I didn’t even know what Wendy Davis was planning on doing. I was so blind to local politics I had no idea about the legislation being shoehorned through in a special session – I didn’t even really comprehend in full what a special session was!  
I found out about her filibuster through friends on Facebook and promptly tuned into the live stream to watch. I quickly determined that I had to turn it off and go back to just reading Twitter and other social media concerning the whole thing. Watching this woman stand in front of those people, seeing her fight for my rights as a woman, it was too much for me - it left me anxious and unsettled. I stayed up until the final strike against her and then, dejected, I went to bed. This means I missed the last hour, the last stand of the Democratic senators, the protests of the crowd, and the ultimate act of the gallery audience taking over the session and having the bill killed.
I did however, watch it the next day, and read everything I could get my hands on. Seeing all those people standing up, being arrested, resisting steam roller politics – it set off a spark inside of me. That spark was only fanned brighter and to greater intensity as I watched the rest of the nation begin to turn their attention towards us. Rachel Maddow , the Daily Show, Huffington Post, each time a media outlet brought attention towards what was happening here…the more passionate I became, the more I wanted to be more actively involved.
It’s been like a wild fire spreading outward and raging higher since then. My friends and I are talking about November elections, and we are working on volunteering to help with the DNC in terms of door knocking and rallies. I know who my state senator is for the first time, I know what district I live in and who is elected from it. I’ve even mailed those who are representing me and told them that their vote on the bills to restrict abortion will influence my vote in November. Before Wendy Davis and Leticia Van De Putte stood up for me and other Texas women, I did not feel like my voice mattered. As a single mother, a college student - I never felt represented in my state politics. As a Liberal I knew I was not represented. With their voices, and the voices of all the progressive women and men in my state speaking up, now for the first time I feel like my voice matters and even more that my vote matters.
This has been my home now for fifteen years, and I think it’s about time that I and all the other liberals on the fringe start making it so that our voices are heard, to let the State Legislature very aware that our votes count. Thank you Wendy Davis, Leticia Van De Putte and all of the other brave men and women standing up and fighting for freedom to choose. Thank you for inspiring me and thousands of other Texans and Americans to stand up and fight for our freedoms and our rights. 

We are not alone any more, we are not silent…and we will not be ignored.

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