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I left a red state and moved to a blue state. The politics and lack of healthcare in Texas drove me back to Oregon.

Jules Rogers   

I left a red state and moved to a blue state. The politics and lack of healthcare in Texas drove me back to Oregon.
  • Jules Rogers moved to Houston for a job but left because she didn't agree with the local politics.
  • She didn't support the loosened gun restrictions and the laws policing women's healthcare choices.

I was born in Houston but grew up in Portland, Oregon. I moved back to Texas as an adult in 2018 for a position at a local newspaper.

Houston had a lower cost of living, and my husband and I both had family nearby, but it wasn't as great as visiting Grandma for Christmas used to be. I had multiple eye-opening experiences that didn't align with my desired quality of life, so I left about two years later.

Here's what drove me out of Texas and back to Oregon.

I became aware of an issue with a local school district that I couldn't believe

A parent called my newsroom and told me her child's school district was segregating students learning English as a second language by having them study in a building across a major highway from the school.

I thought it must be some kind of misunderstanding, but when I called the school district to ask, I learned it was true. I was shocked — this was completely unfair. My paper ran the story, which I wrote, but it wasn't widely read.

This was not my first experience as a journalist in a red-leaning city, but the stories I covered were very different from my work in Oregon and tested my ability to separate my personal beliefs from my work.

Gun laws were loosened

The local legislature made changes to the state's gun laws in September 2019 that felt backward.

HB 1143 allowed licensed gun holders to store firearms, handguns, and ammunition in locked cars on school-campus parking lots. Guns were also no longer prohibited from large religious-gathering areas such as churches and synagogues.

I believe adding more guns doesn't make places safer from shootings. Other countries use policies to tighten gun laws, and we could be doing better.

The voting process was outdated

I voted in person for the first time since I started casting my ballots by mail in Oregon. In Texas, you can vote by mail only if you are over 65, sick or disabled, confined in jail, or meet other criteria.

My white-collar company gave us one day off to vote, which was considered a perk. I assume many shift workers were not afforded this luxury.

I stood in a physical line for hours. When I finally reached the front of the room, no "materials" were allowed in — including my newspaper with circled and underlined campaigning officials and bill details.

In Portland, I have time to research each item before filling out the bubble, and I receive a text at each processing step. In Houston, the voting machines I encountered were dinosaurs, and I didn't receive any form of receipt.

I didn't feel in control of my own body

When I lived there, the Texas abortion ban was ramping up. Then Roe v. Wade was overturned.

It's similar to how Texas treats cannabis as a highly illegal drug compared with Oregon's decriminalization policies: Many people were zealously and evangelically in favor of abortion bans.

One Saturday night in Texas, I attended a Right to Life dinner after being invited by a City Council member. I didn't realize what I was getting myself into.

A talented teen student gave a perfectly practiced speech on how an aborted embryo or fetus could've become an astronaut, president, or doctor who cures cancer.

She was so young — I wanted to encourage her to become one of those herself.

Everyone should have the right to protect their body, their boundaries, and their home, but in Texas, I felt exposed by the politics surrounding my rights concerning my own uterus.

A pregnant mother in Texas who experiences something as dangerous as sepsis can be denied care unless their "life is threatened," meaning a board gets to take its time deciding how sick she is.

Those just aren't good odds to survive as a mother in Texas — and I'm not even someone who wants kids. The lead-up to the abortion ban was a big reason I left Texas.

I knew when it was time for me to go

In addition to the political-environment mismatch, other reasons contributed to my move.

I lived in a suburb of Houston and traveled on highways daily. I didn't like the high transportation costs, including toll roads and all the gas needed to make my commute.

The extreme weather, which included hurricanes, major lightning storms, hail, and smoggy air, was also not aligned with the quality of life I desired.

I loved the radio stations, the Tex-Mex, and the barbecue — and I was earning more money — but I knew when it was time to go. It's more expensive, but I'm happier in Portland.

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