NARAL Pro-Choice America Responds to Primary in Texas’ 28th Congressional District Heading to Runoff Election Between Jessica Cisneros and Henry Cuellar
For Immediate Release: Wednesday, March 2, 2022
Contact: [email protected]
Texas — Yesterday, Texans voted to advance NARAL-endorsed reproductive freedom champion Jessica Cisneros to the May 24 Democratic primary runoff election in Texas’ 28th Congressional District. Cisneros will once again face Rep. Henry Cuellar, a 17-year incumbent who has consistently aligned himself with the anti-choice agenda.
NARAL Pro-Choice America President Mini Timmaraju released the following statement in response:
“NARAL Pro-Choice America congratulates Jessica Cisneros on her advancement to the Democratic primary runoff election and we look forward to continuing to stand by her in this fight. When NARAL Pro-Choice America endorsed Jessica Cisneros in this race, we knew this fight wouldn’t be an easy one. We’re proud of the work we’ve done thus far to help send Jessica Cisneros to Congress, and we will continue to mobilize alongside her to ensure that residents of Texas’ 28th Congressional District have a representative who will truly represent their values in Congress and work to protect reproductive freedom.”
Reproductive freedom champion Jessica Cisneros is an immigration and human rights attorney from Laredo, Texas, who has dedicated her career to fighting for her community. NARAL endorsed Cisneros in her bid to oust anti-choice Rep. Henry Cuellar in September 2021–two weeks after Texas’ vigilante-enforced ban on abortion (SB 8) went into effect. Cisneros previously earned NARAL’s endorsement in her 2020 primary challenge against Rep. Cuellar. Recognizing the high stakes, NARAL Pro-Choice America again mobilized alongside our members this election cycle to help power Cisneros’ race against Rep. Cuellar. In the lead-up to the primary, NARAL:
- Deployed five members of our organizing staff to TX-28 to fuel on-the-ground efforts to elect Cisneros.
- Sent our president, Mini Timmaraju, to TX-28 to rally for the early vote alongside Elizabeth Warren and Jesicca Cisneros.
- Made 54,000 direct voter contact calls, knocked on 3,000 doors, sent 34,000 texts, recruited 300 volunteers, and held 10 events to mobilize voters ahead of Election Day.
- Released digital ads in English and Spanish in support of reproductive freedom champion Jessica Cisneros as part of a six-figure program.
- Partnered with Justice Democrats to launch a six-piece direct mail program targeting likely Democratic voters and other key groups in the district.
- Raised over $15,400 in support of Cisneros’ campaign.
During his time in the U.S. House of Representatives, Rep. Cuellar consistently voted to undermine reproductive freedom and access to abortion care. When the House passed the Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA)—a critical piece of legislation that would safeguard the legal right to abortion—in the wake of SB 8, he turned his back on his constituents as the only Democrat in the House to vote against this critical bill. He has voted in support of the Trump-era domestic gag rule that attacked the Title X family planning program—threatening access to affordable birth control and other critical healthcare, such as cancer screenings and STI testing for millions of people. He was also the only Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee to support the discriminatory, anti-choice Hyde Amendment, which bans coverage of abortion care for those who receive their health insurance through Medicaid.
NARAL-endorsed candidate Rochelle Garza also advanced to the runoff in the Democratic Texas attorney general primary. As a civil rights lawyer in the Garza v. Hargan case, Garza successfully argued that a young woman in immigration detention who was seeking abortion care had met all of Texas’ requirements for a young person seeking abortion care and that her client be allowed to access care. The decision in this case has had a lasting impact, and teens in immigration custody are now given the “Garza Notice,” informing them of their rights to access abortion care without interference and ensuring information is kept private.
These races come at a time when the stakes for reproductive freedom in Texas and across the country are higher than ever. For six months, Texans have had their constitutional right to abortion ripped away because the U.S. Supreme Court allowed SB 8 to go into and remain in effect. This heinous vigilante-enforced law bans abortion at approximately six weeks in pregnancy, before many even know they’re pregnant. Since it has been in effect, this cruel ban has forced Texans seeking an abortion to travel hundreds of miles and cross state lines to access abortion care or be forced to carry a pregnancy to term. Data shows that last year between September and December 2021, Planned Parenthood health centers in surrounding states experienced a nearly 800% increase in Texans seeking abortion care compared to the same time period in 2020. Texas’ SB 8 is a grim preview of what may happen in other states should Roe v. Wade fall and the states expected to ban abortion do so.
In the coming months, the Supreme Court will rule in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization—a case concerning Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban that directly challenges Roe and threatens to end the constitutional right to abortion. If the Court upholds Mississippi’s ban, the constitutional right to abortion will cease to exist as we know it. Should Roe fall, 28 states would likely take action to prohibit abortion outright. Of those, 12 states—including Texas—already have “trigger bans” in place, which would automatically ban abortion.
The people hurt most by abortion bans and restrictions are those who already face barriers to accessing the care they need, including many in Texas’ 28th Congressional District, particularly women, immigrants, Latinx people, and other people of color; those working to make ends meet; young people; and those living in rural communities.
For over 50 years, NARAL Pro-Choice America has fought to protect and advance reproductive freedom at the federal and state levels—including access to abortion care, birth control, pregnancy and post-partum care, and paid family leave—for every body. NARAL is powered by its more than 2.5 million members from every state and congressional district in the country, representing the 8 in 10 Americans who support legal abortion.