I’m starting to get the feeling that Republicans don’t actually believe women exist, or that they can’t remember that the 19th Amendment was adopted in 1920. That’s the only reason I can think of for their repeated attempts to subjugate women and strip them of all control of their reproductive rights. It’s not like the GOP’s assault on abortion rights is anything new. The narrative was quite strong during last year’s elections and led to the coining of a new, if not somewhat controversial bit of rhetoric from the left — The War on Women. Maybe that phrase is a bit on the hyperbolic side, but it’s hard to argue with it when you look at the sheer number of anti-abortion bills — bills that ignore the rule of law and settled Constitutional precedent — that have sprung up in the states and even in our own House of Representatives.
Clearly the messages of 2012 have not been received. Republicans still don’t get it; women can and do vote, especially when they feel rights they’ve grown up enjoying are being threatened. Republicans in Texas clearly haven’t gotten that memo either, as they’re trying to rush insanely repressive and regressive legislation that would close down most of the state’s forty-two abortion clinics. I myself find it a bit absurd that in a state as massive as Texas (I’ve been through many times) there are only 42 clinics, but the bill being rushed through the legislature down in the Lone Star State would all but eliminate women’s access to abortion services in the state. Governor Rick “Drunk on Moonshine, High on Jesus and Guns” Perry has already committed to signing the bill once it gets to his desk, which it is expected to sometime this week.
Something awesome has also been happening in Texas though. Texans have been resisting the hard-right push by the state legislature and even formed a citizens’ filibuster to stall a committee vote on the bill, and they succeeded. They forced the committee to call the vote off after staging an hours-long civil protest, filing in and taking up their allotted three minutes of time until the wee hours of the morning. Texan Republicans are on notice — the voters in their state that don’t rest all their opinion on right-wing extremist demagoguery of any woman who chooses to do with her sexuality and reproductive organs what she chooses — are paying attention.
Texas is an interesting study in American politics. While there is no doubt that the state leans very conservatively on a whole host of issues, there is a large and growing Latino/Hispanic population that will already drive the voting registration a bit to the center; possibly one day soon turning the big red state purple. There’s more color change coming for Texas if this bill does in fact get signed into law. It’s obvious that quite a large number of Texans do not support these arcane attempts to repress women, and they are politically activated. It takes a boat load of emotional investment for Americans these days to leave the comfort of their “Real Housewives of Boise” and their climate-controlled homes to go and protest anything of a political nature, and that’s exactly what happened last week at the committee meeting.
The right has been steadily ramping up their aggression towards abortion rights sine the Religious Right began increasing their influence on the party. The desperation though is growing apparent and much more embarrassing for them. They have to resort to holding midnight legislative sessions to avoid the glare of media and the shouts of protesters. Or at least they thought they’d be avoiding the protesters. The concerned citizens of Texans who don’t believe in the government telling a rape victim they have to have their rapist’s baby still showed up en masse at the midnight session held last night. The people are indeed paying attention.
How far can Republicans in red states push it? How far to the right can state legislators drag their state’s abortion laws before the moderates and liberals in those states strike back? Texas is going to be a state to watch very carefully in the next few months and years. The demographics will force a shift in the politics, but so will any and all attempts to rush controversial legislation through to the governor’s desk without having a full and complete, public debate. Republicans likely underestimate just how many younger women, women born after Roe V. Wade was handed down, who just assume (and rightfully so) that they will enjoy those same freedoms in their lifetimes as well. God help any lawmaker who tells a modern woman, a millennial, they can’t do with their bodies what they want. There will either be a mass exodus from states that continue to push their laws to the rightward fringe, or more likely the case, the people in these states will decide enough is enough and what was once red will become a shiny new blue spot on the map.