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Commentary Abortion

In Texas, We Want to Go Beyond ‘Roe’

Tara Pohlmeyer

Roe is uniquely tied to Texas, and Texans have felt the increased attacks on the right to abortion. While we must protect Roe, the right to abortion means nothing without access. 

It’s a Texas story, through and through. 

Progressives in the state have been building political power for decades, and because of their work, 2020 is a possible tipping point for the once-red Texas. Advocates, lawmakers, and voters are standing together, demanding increased access to abortion care for all Texans. 

On this day 47 years ago, two Texas attorneys, Sarah Weddington and Linda Coffee, argued before the U.S. Supreme Court in the landmark case Roe v. Wade, guaranteeing the basic right to abortion. 

Since then, conservative Texas lawmakers, along with Republican-majority legislatures nationwide, have chipped away at abortion access, most recently with local bans, extreme proclamations, and blocking funding for reproductive health care. But every step of the way, abortion rights supporters have demanded increased access and affordability for abortion care, and are ready to take their fight to the ballot box. 

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Anti-abortion extremists can see the writing on the wall; their recent attacks show how much power progressives truly hold in the upcoming election. 

Small, rural Texas towns, and even some larger cities, have become the latest battleground for anti-abortion extremists, as they encourage city councils to take up abortion bans, declare advocacy organizations to be criminal, and in some cases restrict access to contraceptives like Plan B

This emerging anti-abortion strategy undermines the ability for Texans to access health care in the most uninsured state in the nation and blatantly ignore precedents set in Roe. Instead of weighing into misguided national politics, city councils should be focusing on the issues they were elected to solve, like cultivating their local business community, fixing roads and bridges, and making sure their community is a thriving and safe place to live.

At the state level, conservative leaders are using their power to infringe on abortion access. 

This month, indicted Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) is attempting to bar state workers from donating to Planned Parenthood through the State Employees Charitable Campaign, drawing on a new 2019 Texas law that bans local governments from partnering with abortion care providers. While the full implications of the law remain unknown, it’s clear that this is the latest attempt by Paxton and conservative leaders to chip away at access. 

Every state worker has the right to honest pay, and their paycheck is theirs to do as they see fit. Blocking state workers from using their paychecks as they please is clearly out of line for Paxton, and treads on the First Amendment rights of these Texans. 

In spite of local bans and conservative state leaders, progressives realize their votes are key to a Texas-sized dream of abortion care for all. 

We believe in a Texas where every single person can access each and every health-care option, regardless of where they live, how much they make, their gender identity, or immigration status. That’s why abortion rights advocates are working with local residents and legal experts to fight these local and state ordinances and opinions.

Roe is uniquely tied to Texas, and Texans have felt the increased attacks on the right to abortion. While we must protect Roe, the right to abortion means nothing without access.

As we learn more from 2020 presidential candidates in the coming months, we must ask abortion-forward questions and hold lawmakers to account. How will they work to increase abortion access? How will they dismantle barriers to abortion? What will they do to guarantee affordable abortion care?

As progressives voters, we’ll be able to cast a ballot for candidates who are unafraid, who not only want to save Roe but who will also codify it into federal law and go beyond. Texas is the biggest battleground state in 2020, and our fight for guaranteed abortion access will be at the heart of the 2020 election.

We will continue to work to expand abortion access and affordability for all Texans, with our voices and our votes. 

Tara Pohlmeyer is the communications manager at Progress Texas, a statewide nonprofit media organization committed to promoting and amplifying progressive values.

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