If you believe people should have access to legal abortion care, and you live in Texas House District 134, you must vote for the Democratic nominee for that seat in November. It is imperative that we defeat Republican Sarah Davis, as she cannot be counted upon to protect abortion rights should a law banning abortion come before the Texas House in the 2021 session.
Texas Democrats need to flip only nine seats to gain a majority in the Texas House of Representatives. Winning that majority is already critical, since the House is body charged with developing the decennial Congressional redistricting map.
But now, we are closer than ever to Roe v. Wade being overturned.
A Louisiana case, June Medical Services v. Gee, will come before the Supreme Court in March. The brief history of and issue presented in June Medical:
- Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, decided in 2016, established that requiring physicians performing abortions to have admitting privileges in nearby hospitals and requiring abortion clinics to meet the standards of ambulatory surgical centers place an undue burden on the right to abortion and therefore are unconstitutional.
- Justice Kennedy was the fifth vote in this case. He has since retired from the court and Trump appointed his replacement, Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
- Louisiana passed a law requiring doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges in a nearby hospital. The US 5th Circuit found that the facts in the case challenging the Louisiana law were “remarkably different” from those in the Whole Woman’s case, and so they should not be bound by precedent in June Medical.
- The Supreme Court agreed to hear the Louisiana case.
Today, 209 members of Congress, including both Texas Senators Cruz and Cornyn, as well as 17 members* of the Texas House delegation, all Republicans, signed an amicus brief saying that the court should use June Medical as an opportunity to reconsider and overturn Roe v. Wade. Not an opportunity to require admitting privileges, mind you, but an opportunity to completely reverse the decision in the case which made abortion legal.
Currently, six states have what are known as “trigger laws” on their books, which are laws that say in the event that Roe is overturned, abortion immediately become illegal in that state.
Texas does not have a trigger law.
Such a law was proposed in the 2019 legislative session, but it did not pass out of committee. Texas H.B. 896 was authored by Republican Reps. Tinderholt, Lang, and Swanson, and co-authored by Republican Reps. Stickland (who has since retired), Biedermann, and Cain.
Those are the only six co-authors and co-sponsors the bill attracted. And yes, it is true, none of them are Sarah Davis. But that’s on purpose.
From a strategic perspective, it was easy enough for Sarah Davis (and a bunch of other Republicans) to refrain from signing on while the bill was in committee. That allowed her to maintain the fiction that she is pro-choice, a fiction Republicans are only too happy to help her perpetuate in order to keep her in the House as part of their majority.
Had the bill come out of committee, it would likely have (a) attracted the entire Republican caucus as co-sponsors, and (b) passed out of the House and gone to the Texas Senate.
The only reason it did not is that after the 2018 elections that flipped some solid Republican seats red to blue, Texas Republicans realized how fragile their hold was on certain districts. They did not want to energize Democratic voters ahead of the 2020 presidential race, knowing that Democrats would already be highly motivated to defeat Trump.
But they are playing a long game. They know if they hold onto the state house in 2020, they can draw the congressional district lines that would, for example, make it much harder for Democrat Lizzie Fletcher to win in 2022. They know how to wait for the right moment.
If ever you doubted that Republicans in Congress want to do all they can to overturn Roe v. Wade, this is your wake-up call. They have literally asked the Supreme Court to do the work for them.
And if you were still wondering about the level of urgency for flipping the Texas House to protect us from bad laws at the state level, wonder no more.
It is true that Sarah Davis sometimes supports bills that are positive for women’s health generally, like cervical cancer screening. But any bill she would support would also be supported by a Democrat, and with a majority of Democrats in the House, might actually pass. And there is absolutely no guarantee that she would oppose a trigger law, and some evidence she would support one.
The time for playing defense is over. It is time to play offense, and that means flipping the Texas House from Republican to Democratic control.
Volunteers and campaigns are already hard at work to give the district a great Democratic candidate (I’m supporting Ann Johnson).
Democratic voters in TX-134 outnumber Republicans. Even Lupe Valdez beat Greg Abbott in that district. The votes are there. It comes down to the voters doing the right thing.
I’m calling on Planned Parenthood Texas Votes to decline to endorse Sarah Davis this cycle.
I’m calling on the Human Rights Campaign to rescind their endorsement of Davis or issue a dual endorsement of the Democratic candidate.
I’m calling on pro-choice Republicans in TX-134 to withhold their financial support of Davis, and to pledge their votes for the Democrat in this race.
The time has come to pick a side. Republicans are working at every level of government to restrict access to abortion, and are not even hiding the fact that their ultimate goal is to overturn Roe.
Abortion won’t go away if it becomes impossible or illegal to obtain. It will just become more dangerous, and people will die seeking to terminate unwanted pregnancies.
Are you ready to have a hand in their deaths? Is having a token Republican that important to you?
Which side are you on?
*As noted above, both members of the US Senate from Texas, Ted Cruz and John Cornyn, signed the amicus brief. The seventeen Republican members of the House of Representatives from Texas who signed the brief are:
- Jodey C. Arrington (TX-19)
- Brian Babin, D.D.S. (TX-36)
- Kevin Brady (TX-08)
- Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (TX-26)
- Michael Cloud (TX-27)
- Michael Conaway (TX-11)
- Dan Crenshaw (TX-02)
- Bill Flores (TX-17)
- Louie Gohmert (TX-01)
- Lance Gooden (TX-05)
- Kay Granger (TX-12)
- Pete Olson (TX-22)
- John Ratcliffe (TX-04)
- Chip Roy (TX-21)
- Van Taylor (TX-03)
- Randy Weber (TX-14)
- Roger Williams (TX-25)
- Ron Wright (TX-06)
** Should a ruling come out in June Medical that overturns Roe, we should anticipate the very real possibility of Greg Abbott calling a special session to try to pass a law banning abortion in Texas. He might not, for the reason mentioned above, not wanting to energize anti-Trump voters, but the level of hubris in Texas Republicans is pretty strong. We can’t rule out the possibility.