Sept. 8, 2022
Open letter from Chairman Hinojosa and Vice Chair Cathey on mobilizing Texas women re: Abortion Rights
Texas Democratic County Party Chairs
Texas Democratic Precinct Chairs
Texas SDEC Members
Republicans are finding out the hard way that they have underestimated women. We, as Democrats, cannot make the same mistake.
They thought they could take women for granted, driving their extreme agenda as far as they possibly could, pushing voters to the brink. But in recent months, we’ve seen voters begin to push back like never before.
For decades we as Texans have been told that even the topic of abortion was a non-starter – that voters would run us out on a rail if we tried to message and organize around a woman’s right to make decisions about her own reproductive health.
Thanks to the federal backstop of Roe and the protections it provided for decades, that may have been true – but now, having achieved their twisted goal of a brutal abortion ban with no exceptions for incest or rape, Republicans have awoken a sleeping giant.
We must now in turn meet this moment. We cannot stay stuck in our old way of thinking, messaging, and mobilizing around reproductive freedom.
First, we saw the voters of ruby-red Kansas resoundingly show up to protect their state’s constitutional right to an abortion in early August. This wasn’t because advocates convinced ideological anti-abortion Kansan voters with long-held beliefs to have a change of heart; this happened as a result of deliberately organizing to register new women voters. From the week before the Dobbs leak to the two weeks after the Dobbs decision, the percentage share of women as new voter registrants in Kansas went from an expected 50% to nearly 70% of the voter registration share.
Then last week we saw Sarah Palin lose to Mary Peltola. Peltola made abortion access a central issue in Alaska’s special election without even once using the word “abortion” in her largest ad campaign. Her message echoed the effective structure of Kansas’ reproductive freedom advocates by focusing on judges “4000 miles away,” stripping Alaskans of their “fundamental freedoms” and “personal privacy rights.” She emphasizes that the “federal government has no business taking away our freedoms” and that voters deserve the right to make “choices that work for ourselves and our families.”
Abbott’s and the Texas GOP’s extreme abortion ban in Texas has been equally unpopular, even among rural and Republican Texas voters. Only 8% of rural Texans support the current abortion ban as it is currently being upheld, with rape, incest, serious birth defects and the health of the mother being reasons for the most polarizing drop of 23% in approval. Even Texans who identify as “Leaning Conservative” reject the abortion ban with as low as a 5% approval rating of the current version of the law. Suburban and urban Texans are even more likely to support abortion access.
As you all know, Texas is an incredibly diverse state, and even as Texas Democrats, we hold a wide range of viewpoints. You know your county and its constituencies better than anyone, and you know the best way to convey this message to the voters of your county. Regardless of the exact wording you decide to choose, the core message remains the same, and it remains overwhelmingly popular in rural, suburban and urban Texas: the women of Texas want, need and deserve their bodily autonomy.
The statistics about this moment are unequivocal in what they are signaling – and as Texas Democrats, we have a political obligation to meet this moment and channel Texan women’s righteous anger and frustration into action. We must move mountains to register each and every eligible woman to vote. We must do everything in our power to make it as easy as possible for every eligible Texas woman to cast her vote.
We as Democrats claim to be on the side of abortion rights. Now is the time to align our deeds with our words.
Now, we must deliver tangible results for the women of Texas.
Texas Democratic Party Chair, Cameron County
Shay Wyrick Cathey
Texas Democratic Party Vice Chair, Dallas County