For Immediate Release: Tuesday, June 21, 2022
Texas — Today, NARAL-endorsed candidate Jessica Cisneros conceded her race in Texas’ 28th Congressional District runoff election to anti-choice Democrat Rep. Henry Cuellar after a recount determined that the 17-year incumbent won by a razor-thin margin of less than 300 votes. Cisneros ran a strong campaign to unseat Cuellar, who has consistently aligned himself with the anti-choice agenda to strip Texans of their reproductive freedom for his own political gain.
NARAL Pro-Choice America President Mini Timmaraju released the following statement in response:
“NARAL Pro-Choice America is proud to have supported Jessica Cisneros in her bid to represent this district and unseat long-entrenched, anti-choice incumbent Henry Cuellar. There is no question that Jessica Cisneros ran yet another impressive race that boldly centered her commitment to justice and freedom for all. Her support for reproductive freedom energized voters, and she came within 300 votes of victory. That Cisneros was neck and neck with a 17-year incumbent who benefits from fundraising and other systemic advantages shows that Texans in the district want someone who truly represents them and their values. Rep. Cuellar should remain on notice: NARAL and our members will keep working to hold him accountable for throwing our fundamental freedoms under the bus.”
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 of this election cycle, NARAL Pro-Choice America again mobilized alongside our members to help power Cisneros’ race against Rep. Cuellar. During the primary and the primary runoff, NARAL:
- Deployed organizing staff to TX-28 to fuel on-the-ground efforts to elect Cisneros in the lead-up to the primary and in the lead-up to the primary run-off.
- Sent our president, Mini Timmaraju, to TX-28 to rally for the early vote alongside Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Jessica Cisneros.
- Made over 110,000 direct voter contact calls, knocked on over 4,000 doors, sent over 34,000 texts, recruited over 400 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.
- Ran a digital ad, alongside WOMEN VOTE!, that directs voters to texas28facts.com to get out the vote for Jessica Cisneros.
- Partnered with WOMEN VOTE! to run a six-piece direct mail program targeting likely Democratic voters in the district.
During his time in the U.S. House of Representatives, Rep. Cuellar hasconsistently 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.
The stakes for reproductive freedom in Texas and across the country are higher than ever. For eight 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 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. 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 weeks, the U.S. 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. If the Court upholds Mississippi’s ban, as the leaked draft majority opinion shows they are poised to do, 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, 13 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.