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HB2 on Trial: State’s Parade of Misinformation

After two days of hearing the plaintiffs’ case—testimony from credentialed and practicing doctors and providers—about why House Bill 2, Texas’ anti-abortion law, should be struck down, the Office of Attorney General Greg Abbott began to present the state’s witnesses yesterday. And wow, it was rough...for the state.

First up to the stand: Dr. Mayra Jimenez Thompson, an OB-GYN and professor at UT Southwestern in Dallas, who left me with serious concerns about her reliability as a witness. She hasn't performed an abortion in 20+ years, but claimed that her experience with "these procedures" (abortion? hysterectomy? laproscopy? pap smears? who knows?) leads her to think there should be this level of regulation. She also described the reproductive system as the "female genital system." Her credibility was steadily and efficiently eviscerated in the first 10 minutes when it came to light that Vincent Rue, PhD (in home economics)—the widely-discredited, go-to, anti-choice consultant whom Attorney General Greg Abbott’s office has already paid $36,392 for "other witness fees"—was the one who actually wrote her report. (Has the Attorney General’s office never heard of Google?) Dr. Thompson was caught in several lies and wavered between outright hostility and rambling as she dug a deeper and deeper hole. The Office of Attorney General was off to a less than stunning start.

Next up: Dr. James C. Anderson, a professional anti-choice witness with a certain Forrest Gump-like quality. Once again, he relied heavily on the discredited Vincent Rue. Unlike Dr. Thompson, this guy fully owned up to being in bed with Rue. In fact, he repeatedly referred to it as "a team," saying, "It's all a soup." He was really into soup, btw. I think he may have been hungry. (Well, they have chicken soup and cream of mushroom soup and vegetable soup and minestone and...) He admitted that his reports are about one third his work, a third Rue's, and a third came from his "friend who is a quadriplegic and really good at looking things up." He also admitted to not even checking all the "sources"—one such source being the Susan B. Anthony List, which he claimed not to know is an anti-choice PAC—he linked to in his "expert report." The highlight of those painful hours of clueless testimony: when counsel presented him with the Alabama Federal District Court opinion and pointed out a footnote which discredits him as a witness “due to concerns about his judgment or honesty.” His response? "Well, that doesn't sound real complementary." SMH.

The third witness of the day: Ashton Fisher Jimenez, a visibly pregnant 28-year-old counselor who works for Care Net, a crisis pregnancy center chain. Jimenez testified about her abortion with pills (10 years ago) as a freshman in college and how she had some really bad cramps and bleeding and "felt like she wanted to die" (which is pretty much how any 18 year old feels about many things). Cramping and bleeding are normal for a miscarriage, and an abortion with pills is a medically-induced miscarriage. Jimenez admitted that she didn't read the paperwork that she got from the clinic, which would have informed her of what to expect and listed an emergency number to call. She also admitted that she never went to an emergency room or sought any additional medical assistance beyond the standard 2 week follow up.  But *somehow* she did get hooked up with Care Net's post-abortion counseling, and suddenly the abortion that allowed her to finish her undergrad and graduate degrees, as well as get married and start a family without complication, is something she'd like to deny other young women? Because of cramps? The plaintiffs’ counsel Jan Soifer was perfection on the cross-examination. She objected to the obvious irrelevance of this witness and her testimony, and completely dispensed of her without being brutish or condescending. Oh, and in case you were wondering, the Texas Alliance for Life pays Ashton Fisher Jimenez to tell her story at public events and rallies.

The OAG is back in court today with more witnesses paid to perpetuate misinformation about the safety of abortion. So stay tuned for a follow-up from me.

In the meantime sign our petition, fight back against HB2, and let Texas lawmakers know that you won't be lied to. It's time to put an end to this reproductive health catastrophe.