My name is Amy O’Donnell. I’m the director of communications at Texas Alliance for Life, and speaking in favor of HB 1474.
I know what it is to be a college student and 22 years old, three months into marriage, facing an unplanned pregnancy. Five pregnancy tests into realizing that I was, in fact, pregnant. I was in tears as I recognized the goals that I had, the plan that I had, and the path that I was on to graduate and work and make an income before starting a family was completely turned upside down.
I was attending Texas A&M University, where I was a senior in Bio-Medical Engineering while living in Austin, where I moved for that last year just to commute for what I thought would be my last year of college.
However, I had to delay my graduation. I took a semester off because of my due date and then returned after my child was born to then graduate at a later date.
Texas A&M accommodated my needs regarding taking time off. I took some classes at Austin Community College (ACC). I picked back up when I could, but we had one income and one car was a family on a very tight budget.
So what that meant for me when I went back to school while living in Austin was that I had to drive my husband across town, drop him off at work, drive my child to child care, and then get on Highway 290 to 21 and get myself to Texas A&M for my classes, carry my nursing bag, take my senior level biomedical engineering classes, turnaround go home pick up my child, pick up my husband and do all of my work on top of that.
Now, I was aware of no nursing mother’s room. I carried a nursing bag, pumped in my car, and pumped in the bathrooms. It was awkward, but when you’re a mom, you do what you must make it work.
On top of that, I had a professor after I had my infant child and was going through all of those hoops just to graduate who had a policy that if you were late to two classes, you were docked a grade. I was an A student; I was late for four classes. My A went down to a C even though I talked to my professor, he would not accommodate or work with me on my extenuating circumstances, and there were times that it simply could not be helped that I was a little bit late to class.
I strongly support this bill because it has long been perpetuated in our society that women must have an abortion to compete academically, athletically, or vocationally. I am here to testify by experience that this is not the case.
However, I do believe that our institutes of higher education further supporting women can help women to understand better that that lie is not reality and that with support on campus, as well as the vast resources that Texas offers to women, women can carry their babies, planned or unplanned, graduate, and achieve great things.
Texas Alliance for Life’s Amy O’Donnell gave this testimony to the House of Higher Education in support of House Bill 1474 on April 3, 2023