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A Sad Day for Texas, and the Nation
Dear Steady Community,
This note won’t be long. We will have a midweek conversation tomorrow and a longer essay over the weekend, but I didn’t want to let the day go by without addressing what is happening in my beloved home state of Texas and the measures being undertaken to outlaw abortion.
There is so much to be irate about, the nature of the bill itself, which in essence makes every Texan an informant for money, the way this bill was cynically crafted, and the silence to date from the United States Supreme Court. Make no mistake, this law will cause real harm, first and foremost to the women of Texas who have lost control over their own bodies and choices. And we know that this burden will be borne most acutely by those who are most marginalized, who can’t afford to go to another state or find another means to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. We also know that women will try to end pregnancies on their own, in desperation, with horrific prospects, including death. The harm will radiate outward from there, encompassing families, the economy, and the very underpinnings of civil society. Other states will surely follow Texas’s lead.
I will leave it to others to more fully capture the legal and social implications of what we are witnessing. But I wanted to come out with what I hope is a little perspective. I shared it in a tweet this evening, but I will expand more below.
I have long believed the Republican Party has benefited from a Supreme Court that wouldn’t actually overturn abortion. They could rail against abortion rights for fundraising and votes, rally the base, and not have to live with the political blowback from having abortion actually illegal. Because here’s the thing. People like having rights. Sometimes they don’t have an idea about the rights they could have, and should have. But they certainly know about the rights that they do have — the ones they have come to take for granted. It’s a lot harder to remove something than to never grant it (case in point Obamacare). And legal abortion has been a part of American life, albeit not without its challenges, for decades. Millions of Americans have been born into a country where abortion was a given. Now they are waking up to a different reality.
I know that the attack on abortion rights began the minute Roe was decided, and the most savvy and well-informed on the topic are not surprised by how we got to where we are. Should more voters have been paying more attention? Of course. But life is busy and full of other demands on time. The theoretical, no matter how plausible, is harder to imagine than the tangible.
The thing about Texas is it isn’t Idaho, Alabama, or West Virginia. Yes it’s a “Red State” but one that is potentially sliding towards purple. That is because of an influx of professionals and the businesses where they work. These are the companies and consumers who are powering the Lone Star economy. What do they think about this abortion law? And for that matter the insanity around masks? They were promised a modern Texas, not this dangerous nonsense. Now the Texas government intends to hold back the tide with voter suppression and partisan gerrymandering. That can do the job for now, but for how long? And what happens if people really get angry?
A match is struck, a fuse is lit, and how the looming political explosion plays out is anybody’s guess. But I sense a lot of people are angry, very angry. And they are just finding their voice. Now it will be those taking away women’s rights who will have to play defense. Millions in Texas today feel less free, and they have tens of millions of allies across the nation. Now we will see what they intend to do about it.
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