Toplines and key facts:
- Texas abortion “trigger” ban officially goes into effect Aug. 25. The law prohibits abortion from the moment of fertilization, with no exceptions for rape or incest.
- Republicans are suddenly coming out in favor of repealing the “tampon tax” to distract voters from their cruel abortion bans.
- Most Texans frown on the Texas GOP’s extreme anti-abortion laws. The Republicans have gone too far and they will pay the price next November.
It’s been two months since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Roe vs. Wade. As progressive leaders and organizations scramble to keep up with the ever-changing landscape that is Texas abortion law, Texas Republicans have remained silent on the issue as of late.
First, the Republicans stripped us of our bodily autonomy and celebrated. But now they are trying to avoid the problem. Maybe it’s because they saw what happened in Kansas three weeks ago.
Generally understood as a Republican-dominated state, voters in Kansas took an unexpected turn in voting 59-41 support the maintenance of their right to abortion. Considering 78% of Texas voters think abortion should be allowed in one form or another, that news might not have been welcome news for incumbent GOP officials.
If banning abortion had been presented to Texans as an electoral choice, we would not be where we are today. Although the abortion ban will not be on our ballots, the officials who worked to pass it will. And they start to be afraid.
A die 19 votes for who pushed the state abortion ban through the Senate in the 2021 legislative session was Senator Joan Huffman, R-Houston. Last week, Huffman suddenly came out in favor of eliminating the state sales tax on tampons and pads.
No, the proposal was not his idea. Texas Democrats, led by state Rep. Donna Howard, have proposed legislation to eliminate the ‘tampon tax’ in every legislative session since 2017. Huffman was on the Senate Finance Committee when Democrats first proposed the bill in 2017 and, unsurprisingly to us, the Bill died there.
Huffman did not cite past efforts by Texas Democrats in his announcement; neither did GOP Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar when he joined her in supporting the proposal. He bliss Huffman for “taking bold and decisive action for the women of Texas.”
A truly “bold and decisive action” would have been to vote against cruel state abortion bans. Huffman folds; she is on the ballot in November and is desperately trying to get votes from the same people she deprived of their reproductive rights.
Hegar is no better. He did not support the repeal of the tampon tax until his Democratic opponent, Janet Dudding, started campaigning On the question. In February, Hegar’s office rejected a request lawyers to refund the sales tax on the tampons they purchased.
Given Hegar’s extremely recent history of being against eliminating the tampon tax, we can’t attribute his sudden change of heart to anything other than panic.
Huffman and Hegar don’t care about our reproductive rights or whether menstruating people have to pay more to live. They would have supported the repeal of the sales tax years ago if they had. They reportedly worked to expand Medicaid, increase access to abortion, and encourage nonprofit health care facilities like Planned Parenthood. Huffman and Hegar’s announcement is a power play.
To further prove this point, let’s take it back to 2013 when the state senate debated a 20-week abortion ban. Abortion rights protesters gathered en masse at the Texas Capitol, hoping to deter the bill. Before attendees could enter the Senate Gallery to view the debate, officers from the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) confiscated tampons and maxi pads people’s bags.
The reasoning ? The DPS was concerned that people would use the hygiene products as projectiles to be thrown from the gallery onto the floor of the Senate. The kicker? Firearms were still allowed.
The confiscations continued until the former Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, convinced the DPS to stop. Both Huffman and Hegar were senators at the time; they did nothing.
Governor Greg Abbott joins Huffman and Hegar to support the repeal of the stamp tax last Friday. He’s worked in a statewide office for decades, but hasn’t begun to express interest in the tampon sales tax until now. He knows that Texans are angry about state abortion bans and he will do anything to win back votes.
The timing of the three GOP leaders is strategic. On August 25, 2022, Texas ban on inducing abortion officially comes into force. The law prohibits abortion from the moment of fertilization, without exception in the case of rape or incest. It also makes abortion a crime and adds a fine of at least $100,000 for each “infraction”.
Abbott and his fellow Republican leaders in Texas haven’t bragged about the abortion ban since SCOTUS was canceled deer. They only bring up the tampon tax to distract voters and reporters from their conduct, and reporters should frame GOP efforts as such.
We’ve seen too many articles ignoring the timing of Abbott, Huffman and Hegar’s announcement. And while most reports at least mention efforts by Texas Democrats to eliminate the tampon tax, virtually none include this information in the headline.
With the constant whirlwind of news that Texans hear every day, headlines are the first, and sometimes the only, thing readers see. Without being clear about the intentions of Abbott, Huffman and Hegar, reporters are depriving voters of vital information.
These GOP incumbents know that abortion supporters are the majority — the polls prove it. Around 80% of Texas voters thinks abortion should be allowed in one form or another.
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