Texas Matters is a Thursday evening series focusing on Texas political news while sharing information and strategies with the aim of taking back our state.
The Texas Republican War on Women: It's Not Over
Well, today, it became official. Although Wendy Davis and the thousands upon thousands of pro-choice protesters made a heroic stand against one of the most restrictive anti-abortion bills in the country, it is now law. As expected, Governor Perry put his signature on House Bill 2, which bars abortions on or after 20 weeks and will close all but five abortion providers in the entire state of Texas. It's a pretty dire situation indeed, and it can be easy to get demoralized over it. But Perry's signature does not mark the end of this fight, which is only beginning.
Charles Kuffner over at Off the Kuff lays out what he sees as the best strategy now that we've lost this battle over House Bill 2. It consists of four parts:
1. Organize, organize, organize. Maintain the energy and sense of urgency that originated with the #StandWithWendy filibuster. This is a good way to draw people in while the iron is hot.Rallies are great, but if you're not a protest kind of person, there are other ways to aid in the fight. As for me, I'm planning to attend Deputy Voter Registrar training on July 30 so I can help register voters, an important part of turning Texas into a battleground state. Now is the time to put the most effort into chipping away at the current Republican majority.
2. Remind people who have aligned with the GOP in the past because of certain specific issues that they’re not dealing with the same party now. I’m thinking specifically of doctors and other medical professionals, who loved the GOP ten years ago when tort “reform” was on the agenda.I think we all know people who are voting for old-school Republicans who--let's be honest--don't exist anymore. This is a new, terrifying party, and as House Bill 2 shows, they're coming straight for our bedrooms and reproductive systems.
3. Prepare for the inevitable litigation.Ed Kilgore at the Washington Monthly breaks the potential litigation down for us:
Now from a superficial point of view, the latest batch of state antichoice actions have focused on the relatively safe ground (politically and to a lesser extent constitutionally) of late-term abortions, where the Supreme Court has allowed some leeway in the past. But since most of the “fetal pain” laws have been accompanied by what Guttmacher calls “TRAP” measures—Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers—they are clearly intended to restrict access to all clinical abortions at any stage of pregnancy, and certainly have that effect.Finally, something that we can do right here on Daily Kos:
Since the current constitutional standard for abortion restrictions remains Casey v. Planned Parenthood’s ban on measures that place an “undue burden” on the right to choose, most of these new state laws are clearly in the “danger area” constitutionally. Just yesterday, a federal district court judge in Wisconsin temporarily blocked implementation of that state’s new regulations on abortion providers pending a showing that it did not violate Casey. Federal court challenges are likely in other states as well.
So the long-awaited day of a fresh SCOTUS review of the constitutional law of abortion (last visited by the Court in the 2007 Carhart v. Gonzales decision upholding a federal “partial-birth abortion” ban) may soon be upon us. It could even happen sooner that expected: at the end of the recently concluded term, SCOTUS agreed to hear an appeal of a case involving a Oklahoma restriction on the use of RU-486 that could involve a reinterpretation of Casey. And in any event, the shrewd adoption by antichoicers of the strategy of justifying restrictions as “health and safety regulations” seems designed to exploit the loophole opened up in Carhart by Justice Kennedy that invited policymakers to make their own determinations of women’s health interests.
4. Fight back with reason and with ridicule. In my post about Tuesday’s action in the House, I included a link to Baptist Standard editorial about all the things that the state of Texas and its Republican leadership is not doing for the post-born. Many Democratic legislators filed and fought for amendments to HB2 that would have tried to address some of these things, but of course the Republicans and the “no one is more pro-life than me” author of HB2 rejected them all. That needs to be a campaign issue – really, it needs to be THE campaign issue – in 2014. But it’s also time for our legislative Democrats, who have fought the good fight with honor and perseverance, to not always be so high-minded. A little snark can go a long way, as Lisa Falkenberg demonstrated.The fight over House Bill 2--and other restrictive anti-choice legislation around the country--has only begun. And there's room in the struggle for all of us.
About Wendy Davis for Governor...
The idea of a Wendy Davis gubernatorial bid has picked up quite a bit of steam in the netroots. The idea has a number of detractors, however. One of the biggest detractors is Dr. Mark P. Jones, a Rice University political scientist, who has this to say in a Texas Tribune guest column:
Davis has the fourth-most-liberal voting record of the 31 senators. Perhaps of greatest relevance, she is significantly more liberal than four of her Democratic Senate colleagues: John Whitmire of Houston, Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa of McAllen, Carlos Uresti of San Antonio and Eddie Lucio Jr. of Brownsville. By contrast, Davis is significantly more conservative than only one Democrat — Rodríguez. Her ideological position is statistically indistinguishable from that of the other six Democratic senators.Our own PDiddie has some harsh (and awesome) words for Dr. Jones' methodology, premise, and attempt to stir up concern over at Brains and Eggs:
Paul Burka, Patricia Kilday Hart, Ross Ramsey and others have identified multiple hurdles Davis would face were she to run for governor in 2014. To those I would add one more: Davis would be competing for statewide office in what is still a very red state with the legislative voting record of a relatively liberal Texas Democrat. This record may well prove to be an electoral asset in the future, but in 2014 it would be a liability.
Jones asserts Wendy Davis is the 4th most liberal senator, and then charts a voting record that is all but identical to six of her colleagues. His words: "Her ideological position is statistically indistinguishable from that of the other six Democratic senators."The entire hilarious takedown is well worth the read.
So if that's true, what weight is given data that makes her fourth most liberal and not one of the 6 others? By this same measurement, Jane Nelson -- yeah, that Jane Nelson -- is the 4th most conservative state senator, more so than Troy Fraser, Tommy Williams, Glenn Hegar, and Bob Estes. And every Republican in Texas is laughing out loud right now. Update II: In preparing my personal legislative scorecard at the Texas Tribune, Nelson was the Republican whose votes I agreed with the most often (a stunning 86%).
Dr. Jones should have simply saved himself the trouble and just gone all Ronald Reagan "librul-librul-librul" on Sen. Davis. He could have at least updated Reagan's smear with some of Rush Limbaugh's or Ann Coulter's spew; they've both made fortunes off that 'Liberals-R-e-VILL!' schtick. But I suppose he thinks what he's doing isn't the same thing.
Texas Democrats: It Gets Better
I thought I'd conclude this week's Texas Matters with something uplifting, so here goes. Recently, Democrats in the Texas legislature made an It Gets Better video as a message to the LGBT youth here in Texas. You'll notice some very familiar faces. It comes in two parts that are both worth the watch:
Yes, it really does get better. And that message, I believe, applies to the entire state as well.
Texas Diary Round-Up
eowynsdottir: Illegal Abortions Spike in Texas (7/12/2013)
Laura Clawson: Wendy Davis: The moment when real Texans stood up and said enough (7/12/2013)
LivesInAShoe: Action Diary: Stand With Texas Women (7/12/2013)
Jen Hayden: A judge secretly aids a prosecutor in Texas (7/12/2013)
Laura Clawson: Texas Republican: Anti-abortion bill 'is not a women's rights bill' (7/12/2013)
David Harris Gershon: TX Police Force Women to Throw Out Tampons to Enter Senate Gallery, While Allowing Concealed Guns (7/12/2013)
Laura Clawson: Texas Senate passes notorious anti-abortion bill (7/13/2013)
Horace Boothroyd III: “This is too much, this is just like some third world country that we’re in all of a sudden.” (7/13/2013)
JLFinch: U mad? This is what you can DO NOW to change Texas (7/13/2013)
jusjtim35: Protecting Women's Health? (7/14/2013)
DownstateDemocrat: TX-Gov: Greg Abbott sending e-mails from Rick Perry's campaign account (7/14/2013)
tiredntexas: Wendy Davis, Frontrunner for Texas Governor? (7/14/2013)
Laura Clawson: Wendy Davis: Texas GOP's War on Women's health goes much deeper than one anti-abortion bill (7/15/2013)
Fokozatos siker: "My wife has breast cancer": POWERFUL piece on Texas forced birthers (7/16/2013)
evilcommunist: Texas Going Blue (7/16/2013)
Laura Clawson: Texas Democrat: Let's put anti-abortion laws on hold until death penalty is abolished (7/17/2013
Jen Hayden: Lewis Black messes with Texas (7/18/2013)
Laura Clawson: Rick Perry signs Texas anti-abortion bill (7/18/2013)
Laura Clawson: The fight against Texas' new anti-abortion law isn't over (7/18/2013)
Laura Clawson: Women's health care going from bad to worse in Texas (7/18/2013)
Got more Texas news stories or action alerts? Share them in the comments!