The Texas law (Texas Senate Bill 8) went into effect last week on September 1, and bans all abortions (without exceptions for rape or incest) once cardiac activity can be detected in a fetus, usually around six weeks into a pregnancy and often before a person would know they are pregnant. It is the most restrictive abortion law in the country. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to block the law on September 1 in a 5–4 vote.
Kelly Cornell, the Dallas Art Fair’s director, said in an interview that she and her team were shocked by the Supreme Court decision. “There was a feeling that we can’t not do anything here,” Cornell said. “It’s so important for Texas-based businesses, especially smaller businesses like us, to lead by example and be loud about our opinions.”
Since the law went into effect, one exhibitor has already withdrawn its participation. Mother Gallery, which has locations in Manhattan and Beacon, New York, said in a statement posted to Instagram on September 1 that the gallery would not participate in any future edition of the fair “so long as women in that state have to live without the right to choose. We cannot in good conscience participate in any activities in Texas and look the other way. No amount of money made or money lost is worth our silence or complicity.”
The gallery also called on others to boycott Texas. Cornell said she had been in contact the gallery’s founders and informed them about plans to donate money to Planned Parenthood.
Cornell said she understood why some might choose to boycott Texas over the bill, but she believes it’s important not to “abandon the people who need it most,” namely those people who will be directly impacted by the law. “I think it’s important to show up and support and be loud here and to stand up here for businesses like ours in Texas. This is the best move we can make and that’s what we’re going to do,” she said.
Because of the pandemic, the fair hasn’t been able to stage an in-person art fair since its 2019 edition. The 2021 iteration is scheduled for November 12–14, with a preview day on November 11, at the city’s Fashion Industry Gallery.
“For more than 85 years, Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas has respected Texans to make their own personal health care decisions,” said Ken Lambrecht, president & CEO of Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas, in a statement. “Today, more than ever, we are committed to the right to access healthcare without political interference. We are proud to be a trusted resource for healthcare and education through more than 93,000 patient visits annually.”
Cornell said that she has previously supported the work of Planned Parenthood. “Planned Parenthood supports the patients and right now it’s the patients who are really suffering, so important to protect women’s rights here in Texas as they’re blatantly being taken away from us. The business and cultural communities need to come together and stand up and act in order to make a change here. Any impact we can make is an important impact.”
She added, “As a Texas female resident with daughters, I feel like I have to fight more than ever. We never thought we’d be here in a political position, but this is something we have to take a stand on.”
Correction, 9/7/21, 3:40 p.m.: After this article was published, a Dallas Art Fair spokesperson said that the fair was donating $50,000 to Planned Parenthood, instead of all of the funds brought in via ticket sales for the 2021 edition, as the spokesperson had said prior to publication. This article has been updated to reflect this.