The SXSW Film Festival has received a lot of backlash recently for choosing to continue its operations in Austin, Texas. The criticism comes due to the horrendous abortion laws that were passed in the state which cause enormous damage to the reproductive rights of women living in Texas. The new laws also grant other Texas residents the right to sue women who are seeking an abortion.
In a recent statement, the organisers of SXSW condemned the abortion bills by claiming that they are in violation of fundamental rights. They wrote: “SXSW stands against discriminatory laws and unequivocally supports civil rights for all persons, everywhere. As residents of Texas we are appalled at the passing of both SB 4 and SB 8, the most restrictive state abortion bills in the nation, along with SB 1, which deliberately disenfranchises voters.”
Adding, “These bills not only negatively impact reproductive freedom and voter rights in Texas, but set a dangerous precedent across the United States. The Texas Legislature and Governor Abbott continue to pass punitive legislation while presiding over governmental failures during the last two years that led to the suffering of thousands of Texans.”
However, none of these revelations have been enough to convince the organisers to relocate from Austin as a demonstration of protest against this blatant attack on female reproductive rights. According to the organisers, such a move would have an adverse effect on the economic stability of the city and the state.
“We hear the calls for us to leave the state that we have called home for more than 30 years,” organisers wrote in the statement posted on social media. “These grievous bills do not reflect the diversity of Texan voters or the evolving demographic and electoral trends. And they certainly do not reflect the progressive views held by many in Austin.”
Continuing, “SXSW leaving Austin would economically damage the city much more than it would the state. Much of the economic impact derived from our event benefits the city’s small business and creative communities. Austin is part of SXSW’s DNA, and we are committed to staying and fighting alongside the people who have made us who we are.”
They maintained that they are helping in other ways: “We will continue to use our platform to further the progression of human rights at home and across the globe. We are making donations to Planned Parenthood, the Lilith Fund, and Fair Fight, and will be reaching out to these organisations and other activists to give them a platform at the 2022 event.”
More than 300 lawyers in Texas criticised the law for not living up to the ideals of the American constitution and for completely disregarding the importance of Roe v. Wade. After Texas, Florida is preparing to introduce a similar bill with Republican government officials soon to follow suit in other states.