Editor’s Note: This article focuses on personal feelings about abortion rights in the US, and in Texas, specifically. It gets into some serious stuff and if your bandwidth for stressing about Roe v. Wade is maxed out, you may want to pass on today’s piece.
And so our national cycle continues: first, a major government body decides that states can opt out of safeguarding a critical civil right, making life even harder in the Southern and Midwestern US. Then, a familiar chorus of online Blue State would-be allies lecture those of us down in Red States about what we owe the rest of this country. And since most of us can’t afford to uproot our entire lives and support networks for greener pastures, they often recommend voting and reaching out to our congressperson or senator as the next best thing.
And look: I get it. Some parts of our country are still theoretically a representative democracy, while others have gerrymandered-to-hell congressional districts shaped like Junji Ito creations. Who knows, maybe your state isn’t as notoriously difficult to vote in.
Maybe your senator’s office at least pretends to care if you live or die. But despite my best efforts, Senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn are my senators. For the past ten years, I have donated to their opponents, cajoled everyone in my life into voting at every election (including minor local propositions), and even became a deputy voter registrar for a whole hot minute. You could coat a city bus with all of my “I Voted” stickers, but these two clowns still represent me and roughly 28 million other Texans.
I used to call and email my senators, too, but they tend to brag about the tearful missives they get from people like me. So rather than giving Senator Cruz’s office the satisfaction of making me cry again (although honestly: not like it’s hard!!!!), here are a few (mostly) less ineffectual ways for me to pass the time:
- Trying to figure out if I can still legally donate to a local abortion fund or if doing so will get me arrested
- Because Texas’s electrical grid is still completely and utterly boned, preparing for summer blackouts and taking advantage of discounted winter weatherproofing supplies
- Reliving the 2021 Heidi Cruz Winter Storm Group Text Thread and saluting whoever leaked it
- Buying art from Rory Blank to mail to Ted Cruz instead of writing yet another earnest plea (he’s used to it) but then keeping the art for myself
- Checking on the reproductive health advocates in my life to see how they’re hanging in there / sharing open job postings with those who need them
- Reminding folks to delete their period tracking apps, and to also delete their period tracking app data
- Reminding well-meaning Blue State pals to stop inviting folks down here up for “camping trips” via social media; reminding all of y’all that the “in Minecraft” defense apparently does not actually hold up in court
- Telling the people I love that I love them, which feels more important when things are scary and unsure
- Figuring out if Signal is a real + good anonymous messaging platform, a Secret Service honeytrap, a crypto scam, or any combination of those three things??
- Googling a lot of scary maternal health outcomes and then opening and closing tabs I’m too afraid to finish reading
- Figuring out whether or not my onion-cutting goggles would be strong enough to withstand pepper spray OR if getting punched while wearing them will suction my eyeballs clean out of my head??????
- Feeling bitter, impotent rage at a president who claims that we can collectively out-vote far Right extremists as they restrict voter access in real time
- Fearing for trans kids in Texas, trans people all over the country, people of color already facing significantly higher reproductive healthcare and abortion access barriers even before Roe was repealed, married queer people and their families, people who take birth control because they have endometriosis, and people who take birth control because they have sex
- Doomscrolling, as a treat
Nine years to the day before the Roe v. Wade reversal, I huddled with a handful of close friends in the rotunda of the Texas Capitol, crying from joy after Wendy Davis’s historic filibuster. A lot of people thought we won that night. A few weeks later, the bill Davis filibustered against still passed.
We spent weeks at the Capitol leading up to that filibuster night — the entire summer of 2013. As people shared harrowing testimony about reproductive health crises, I’ll never forget seeing state legislators on the Texas House floor, playing on their phones, joking with each other, literally horsing around pushing each other off of wheeled office chairs like children. Republican legislators laughed when Davis shared our heartbreaking stories. They laughed when we shared our own stories. They don’t care if you see them laughing.
Laughing as a weeping woman describes her late term miscarriage might be career suicide for statewide political office in your home state. If so, I wish my home was like your home. But on the other hand, it turns out that what starts here really does change the world. Other states have been copying from Texas’s far-right playbook for years. Texas’s statewide 2014 election mirrored much of what the whole country would experience in 2016. Texas might be broken by design, but it doesn’t exist in a vacuum.
I know I’m probably not doing or processing All Of This in any kind of Right Way. I’m doing my best to show up for my loved ones and my community without letting the weight of everything overwhelm me. And maybe protecting my home can help other folks protect theirs, too.
But I don’t owe Ted Cruz any more of my tears and you don’t either . Write to him if you want to. Call his office if you want to. But if you’d rather do literally anything else, I won’t hold it against you.