Texas - You’ve probably read about the horrible abortion bill in Texas already this week, but we have to discuss it here. This is such a major event with massive implications to come.
In May, Governor Abbott signed the strongest anti-abortion law in the country, Senate Bill 8, which went into effect on this week on September 1. It bans abortion six weeks after conception — when many pregnant people don’t even know they’re pregnant — thus criminalizing about 85% of abortions in Texas. There are no exceptions for rape, incest. Opponents of the bill had asked the U.S. Supreme Court to stop the law from taking effect. It declined to do so on a 5-4 vote, with all three of Trump’s Supreme Court picks on the wrong side.
Disturbingly, S.B. 8 puts ordinary people in charge of enforcement. Anyone — at all — can sue any individual who “aids or abets,” or even intends to abet, an abortion in Texas after six weeks into a pregnancy. Anyone who advises a pregnant person seeking abortion (including a spouse or partner), gives them a ride, provides counseling, staffs a clinic, and so on, can be sued by any random stranger. If the plaintiff wins, they pocket $10,000 plus court costs, and the clinic that provided the procedure is closed down. So S.B. 8 enables nuisance lawsuits to ruin abortion providers, along with anyone accused of aiding and abetting — or intending to abet — an abortion. And the enforcers will be ordinary citizens, well, self-appointed vigilantes actually. These vigilantes are already compiling info and dossiers on their friends and neighbors. Find this impossible to believe? Check out: www.prolifewhistleblower.com
Obviously, this is a disaster for all Texans. And as with so much, the hurt will be felt most keenly by those on the bottom of the economic ladder and communities of color, who don’t have the financial ability to travel to other states or access the tools and resources that the wealthier do when they need abortions. It shows the failure and evil of Trump's Supreme Court picks, who barely even justified their decision. It shows what fascism looks like right here at home.
This story also shows the critical importance of voting for pro-choice candidates. Now, I know what some of you will say in reply to this: “Tina, we did vote! We elected Biden and this terrible thing still happened! How can your solution just be to keep voting?” That’s a fair question. While neither you nor I can vote for new Texas legislators, and we can only vote here in Washington, we still have to recognize that Democratic control doesn’t necessarily last forever - unless we work every day to make it last. A woman’s right to abortion is not in our state constitution, only in law - a law which we know the Washington Republicans would love to repeal. They’ve applauded the Texas abortion bill and have started work on such a bill in almost every state. Just look at what the Chair of the King County Republicans posted:
We all know that midterm elections can be a challenging political environment for the president’s party, and here in Washington, the right to abortion will be on the ballot with every choice (Dem or GOP) just as it will be in every state. We cannot afford to think that “it can’t happen here.” It can - if we don’t stop it. This threat to the right to abortion means it’s more important than everbefore that we protect our pro-choice legislators, and to expand our majorities to the supermajority it would take to embedthe right to abortion into our state constitution, protecting this right from potential fluctuations in partisan control.
And in Texas, we’re joining our friends at the Texas Democratic Party in encouraging folks to support their local abortion funds, which directly help pregnant people access abortions. This link goes to a fundraising page split between Support Your Sistah at the Afiya Center, West Fund, Lilith Fund, Frontera Fund, Whole Woman's Health Alliance, Inc., Texas Equal Access Fund, Jane's Due Process, Clinic Access Support Network, The Bridge Collective, and Fund Texas Choice - a list of Texas abortion funds assembled by local experts on the ground. It’s not a political contribution, it’s direct support for the folks who are on the front lines of providing care and support pregnant people in Texas who need help getting an abortion, and it’s very important that we stand up for them.
This wasn’t even the only bad bill going into effect in Texas this week! House Bill 1927 permits people to carry handguns without a permit, unless they have been convicted of a felony or domestic violence. This measure was not popular in the state. 59% of Texans - including the Texas Police Chiefs Association - opposed it. And Texas also just passed new voting restrictions that allow partisan poll watchers to have “free movement” in polling places, enabling them to intimidate voters and elections staff. Texas Governor Greg Abbott is expected to sign that bill in the next few days.
What we’re seeing is a Republican U.S. Supreme Court that’s willing to let GOP state legislatures run roughshod over our rights. Working together, they are attacking our right to abortion, our protections against gun violence, the health of our very democracy, our right to vote, and so much more. State legislatures are a battleground where we must fight and win - in Washington, in Texas, and in every state in the nation.
The hope I can offer you is that these are fights we can -- and will -- win. We’ve seen how over the past few years, we’ve reshaped our Washington state legislature, flipped the Senate majority from red to blue, brought in fantastic classes of progressive, pro-choice champions, and elected the most diverse legislatures in history, with record numbers of Democratic women of color taking office. We have done this and we can do it again - here and elsewhere. It takes work and money, and we don’t always win every race, but it can be done. It’s what must be done.
Labor Day - It’s Labor Day weekend, and a good opportunity to reflect on the enormous contributions that unions have made to our society. If you appreciate having weekends, thank labor unions! The power of workers united is crucial for countering the corporate power of capital and ensuring that the people get a voice in their workplaces, our politics, and our society at large.
Here in Washington, we’re happy to have worked with our allies in labor to support causes like reforming our state’s upside-down and unfair tax code, raising the minimum wage, passing paid family and medical leave, and enacting critical workplace protections and safety measures.
I’m also proud that our state party staff is in our 4th year as a unionized workforce as members of IUPAT, and that we’re able to make sure that we’re providing fair wages and benefits for the workers who help make possible so much of the work that Washington State Democrats are able to accomplish.
If you’re gathering with your family and friends this weekend for a barbecue or a picnic (COVID safely, I hope!) please take a moment to consider the sacrifices and work done by labor unions and workers to get us here today. We stand on the shoulders of giants, who had to fight Pinkertons, and faced violence and retribution from bosses and corporations - and still do.
Redistricting Commission Announces Key Dates - Now that the Census Bureau has finally released the final data required for drawing maps in our redistricting process, our state’s bipartisan Redistricting Commission has announced important meeting dates for presenting their map proposals and soliciting feedback:
Tuesday, September 21 – Commissioners will each release their proposed state legislative district map.
Tuesday, September 28 – Commissioners will each release their proposed congressional district map.
Tuesday, October 5(7 p.m.) – Statewide Virtual Public Outreach Meeting to receive feedback on state legislative map proposals.
Saturday, October 9(10 a.m.) - Statewide Virtual Public Outreach Meeting to receive feedback on congressional map proposals.
Friday, October 22 – Deadline to ensure full consideration of third-party map submissions by the Commission.
Monday, November 15 (11:59 p.m.) – Deadline for Commission to submit final maps to the Legislature.
We all need to have these dates on our calendars because the map proposals we see from the commissioners this month and the feedback they receive from the public in October will be critical for laying out the political groundwork for the next decade in Washington. Local party organizations need to be aware of what’s being proposed in their legislative and Congressional districts, and ready to provide feedback to ensure that the maps are representing communities of interest and drawing lines that let Democrats fairly compete.
As these dates come, we’ll be working with our state party’s Redistricting Committee to share information out to all our local party organizations about what we see being proposed and how they can get involved, but tracking these key dates is the first step. In the meantime, the redistricting commission has made a “Draw Your WA” tool where the public can advocate on behalf of your communities of interest by drawing the boundaries of areas that should stay together. You can use the tool here:https://www.redistricting.wa.gov/participate/draw-your-wa
Our state party’s Redistricting Committee hosted a great webinar training on how to use the Draw Your WA tool, along with third-party mapping software like the freeDave’s Redistricting tool. We encourage folks who want to get involved and learn more about redistricting and their communitiesto watch the webinar here.
Stories From Those Helped By Biden Agenda - We’re working with the DNC to collect stories from folks who’ve been positively impacted by the Biden agenda so far. If you have a compelling story about how you’ve been helped and you think you can tell it well - maybe how the Child Tax Credit funds have helped you pay for something you’ve been putting off or make an investment in your future, or how the public health funding helped you get vaccinated and protect you and your loved ones from COVID - fill out this form to share your information for a bank of stories that we can call from to talk about the successes of this administration so far!
GOP Karaoke - Ending the email on a moment of levity - I could not stop laughing at this video of the incredibly extreme conservative Sen. Phil Fortunato of the 31st Legislative District singing a strange, anti-vaccine parody of the Buffalo Springfield classic “For What It’s Worth.” I’m not sure Fortunato understood particularly well the original lyrics of the song and the point that it was making, but that didn’t stop him from making a fool of himself.
It goes without saying that I don’t endorse his message in the least, but give it a watch and get a sense of what we’re up against. This guy’s up for re-election in 2022:
Thank you as always for reading, and I hope you enjoy the weekend!