Communication Professor Richard Pineda (far left) leads a discussion on the 83rd Texas Legislature with State Sen. Jose Rodriguez (D), Rep. Joe Pickett (D), Rep. Marisa Marquez (D -77), Rep. Joe Moody (D), Rep. Naomi Gonzalez (D -76) and Rep. Mary Gonzalez (D -75). (Aaron Montes/

El Paso state legislators decry law that restricts women’s reproductive health options

EL PASO – A controversial law passed during the 83rd session of the Texas State Legislature in 2013 that restricts women’s reproductive health options drew strong criticism at a gathering here of state legislators from the El Paso area. The bill restricts abortions after 20 weeks and mandates that clinics must meet the same standards as major surgical health-care facilities. Governor Rick Perry signed it into law on July 18 in a second special session after a filibuster by Senator Wendy Davis (D) on June 25 that drew national attention. Rep. Marisa Marquez (D -77), Rep. Naomi Gonzalez (D-76) and Rep. Mary Gonzalez (D-75) agreed that the legislation was detrimental to an individual’s health and that the legislation was biased against women. “When the heat is on and you have something explode the way it did you really do see the true character of Texas women,” Marquez said.

Maria Espinoza talks to Congressman Beto O'Rourke (D-Texas) about her concerns about U.S. military intervention in Syria after the town hall meeting on Sept. 2 at the Mills building in Downtown El Paso. (Aaron Montes/Borderzine)

O’Rourke says his constituents and his conscience will decide his vote on a U.S. military strike in Syria

EL PASO – Only a few of some 150 military veterans, businessmen and members of the local Syrian community attending a town hall meeting here Sept. 2 called by U.S. Representative Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) said they supported any U.S. involvement in the Syrian civil war. On Aug. 31, President Obama called for a congressional vote to authorize a military strike against Syrian stockpiles of chemical weapons after the government of Bashar Hafez al-Assad allegedly unleashed a chemical attack that killed nearly 1,500 of his own people. O’Rourke said he wanted to hear from his constituents before taking part in next week’s vote in Washington, D.C. “With your emails, Facebook quotes, phone calls, letters, I feel like I can then make a decision that is in the best interest of my community and in keeping with my conscience,” O’Rourke said.