The title of “Representative” is not just a word. It’s a description of function. Republicans seem to have forgotten this part of their civic duty. Elected representatives have a responsibility to represent their constituents’ desires; they are not charged with enforcing their ideology in spite of the wishes of the people who elected them.
In Texas, a House Committee has expressly gone out of its way to avoid even hearing the wishes of the public, much less acting on them. The committee intended to pass a bill which would effectively close nearly all abortion facilities in the state. Opponents of the measure, mostly women, showed up in the hundreds to speak against it. The testimony lasted until the wee hours of the morning, when the meeting adjourned with no vote.
The Republicans weren’t going to have any more of that “popular opinion” nonsense, so they scheduled a new meeting at the last minute, in a room that would barely hold the committee itself. Thanks to their efforts to subvert the will of Texas residents, it will now get a lot harder to get an abortion in Texas — not that it was exactly easy before. Unless the measure is struck down by the courts, Texans are going to have themselves a 20 week ban and fewer clinics, whether they like it or not.
There are a couple of terrifying themes underlying this story. Obviously, there’s the bit where the Republican agenda is not contingent in any way upon the will of the people. We should think long and hard on the implications of a political party whose platform and practice center on defying the will of the people – in a country founded on the will of the people.
We also need to think about the realities on the ground, when it comes to the will of the people. When polls are read in full context, we get a clear picture. Most Americans want women to be able to get safe abortions, after receiving counseling about other options. Even when we look at measures opposed by progressives, such as mandating that doctors show patients ultrasounds before performing the procedure, we note that Americans still favor providing abortions.
More importantly, we should note that abortions are exclusively performed on women, which raises the question of why men are answering the question in the first place. When asked directly, fully 89% of American women want the choice to have an abortion. Let’s think about this in an even more direct way: If we roughly divide the country in halves by both gender and party affiliation, and roughly estimate that 100% of Democratic women favor legal abortion, that means that no less than 80% of Republican women favor legal abortion. That’s the most conservative number possible. It’s probably higher, because there are certainly a few Democratic women who oppose legal abortion.
There’s something even more powerful that we need to consider. What people do is often more important than what they say. What American women do is get abortions, regardless of their political or religious affiliation. More than 7 in 10 abortions are performed on religious women. Let that sink in. Of the approximately 1 million abortions per year, nearly three quarters of a million are performed on religious women, most of whom are Christian.
Let’s say it plainly: When it comes to brass tacks, even anti-abortion Christian women prefer to be able to have an abortion. It’s an unavoidable conclusion, if you think about it. If 80% of Americans are Christians, and 89% of women prefer choice, and 70% of abortions are performed on religious women, well, there it is.
What else is there to say? It’s right there in front of Republicans. Their agenda to limit choice is not only contrary to the will of the public, it’s contrary to the will of 9 out of 10 people for whom the choice matters the most. When Republicans closed the doors in Texas and voted for their ideology, they spat in the faces of 90% of the women in the country. They told them in no uncertain terms, “Your opinion does not matter to us in the least.” It certainly makes one wonder why any woman would vote for a Republican.