On August 2, 2022, hundreds of Waco residents attended the Waco City Council meeting to discuss whether the Council should put on its agenda consideration of the GRACE Act. Several other cities have adopted that Act. If adopted, the Act would merely be a statement by the Waco City Council requesting the local Waco police to not prioritize imprisoning our girls and their doctors and other medical professionals while we adjust to life after the fall of Roe v. Wade. I spoke at that meeting and here is what I said:
Good evening Mayor, Councilmembers. My name is Erin Shank. I am a resident of Waco, Texas. I have been a practicing Texas attorney for almost 40 years. I am also a Candidate for the Texas House of Representatives on your November 8, 2022 ballot.
I have been studying the Roe v. Wade opinion and its ramifications since I attended law school in the early 80’s. As we all know, the U.S. Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade and our country went from abortion as a Constitutional right to now in Texas a complete ban on abortion. I hear on the campaign trail that the vast majority of Wacoans want us to find a place in the middle on this issue. I am trying to help find that middle space for our community on this issue. While we strive to find that middle, we can not begin this conversation by imprisoning our girls or their doctors. That is barbaric. That is not American.
As an attorney, I receive Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s press releases. Mr. Paxton’s latest advisory is a full throated request that local Texas prosecutors prosecute our doctors, nurses, medical staff with punishments of life in prison, a $100,000 fine and loss of medical licenses if a pregnancy is terminated. Mr. Paxton specifically says that the pregnant woman can not be penalized with these criminal penalties, only her doctor, hospital and medical staff.
My husband and I have three children. Our third pregnancy was difficult and full of intense medical decisions. Rachel’s birth was traumatic, she was born catastrophically ill, and she and I spent the first 27 days of her life in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit in Children’s Hospital in Dallas where she was care flighted shortly after her birth. I therefore know what it is like to have a medically challenging pregnancy and birth.
I thank God that when Dr. James Norwood, my husband John Shank and I were making decisions about my pregnancy and Rachel’s birth that Dr. Norwood’s entire focus was on the medical treatment he was giving to me and my unborn child and that he did not have any fear that his advise was going to subject him, or his nurses and medical staff to imprisonment for life.
I stand here today and urge you to firmly support Hillcrest Scott and White Hospital, Ascension Providence Hospital and Waco Family Health and all of the many doctors, nurses and other medical professionals and agree that our precious city resources, and the resources of local criminal justice system, not be used to interfere with these medical decisions. Our medical community will stand with you and your family when you are sick, are in an accident or are nearing the end of your days here on this earth. We all need to stand with them today. Thank you for your time.
Published in the Waco Tribune-Herald on 8/7/2022