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Jessica Cisneros

Jessica Cisneros is challenging Democratic Texas Congressman Henry Cuellar in the 2022 primary race for the state's 28th Congressional Distrist. (Photo: Jessica Cisneros for Congress)

With Texas at Center of Abortion Fight, NARAL Backs Cisneros Over Cuellar for 2022

"Jessica Cisneros will take bold action to fight back against unyielding attacks from anti-choice politicians in Texas and across the country."

Jessica Corbett

As Texas Republicans draw national attention for enacting a blatantly unconstitutional abortion law, NARAL Pro-Choice America on Wednesday endorsed Jessica Cisneros, the progressive primary challenger to anti-choice Democratic Congressman Henry Cuellar.

"We need leaders like Jessica Cisneros in Congress to fight for our values and safeguard access to abortion care to ensure that everybody—no matter who they are or where they live—can access the care they need."
—Christian LoBue, NARAL

This is the reproductive freedom advocacy group's first candidate endorsement of the 2022 cycle and the second time NARAL has backed Cisneros.

A immigration and human rights attorney from Laredo, Cisneros narrowly lost to Cuellar in the 2020 primary election for Texas' 28th Congressional District.

The primary fight between the two Democrats comes as the Biden administration and reproductive rights advocates are battling the new Texas abortion ban and and pro-choice congressional Democrats are weighing federal legislation to codify Roe v. Wade into law as the nation awaits a decision from the right-wing U.S. Supreme Court that could overturn the landmark 1973 ruling.

"We are proud to endorse Jessica Cisneros at this critical moment in the fight for reproductive freedom, and our members in Texas are excited to roll up their sleeves and help send her to Congress," said NARAL chief campaigns and advocacy officer Christian LoBue in a statement.

"We need leaders like Jessica Cisneros in Congress to fight for our values and safeguard access to abortion care to ensure that everybody—no matter who they are or where they live—can access the care they need," LoBue added. "Jessica Cisneros will take bold action to fight back against unyielding attacks from anti-choice politicians in Texas and across the country and work to secure a future where reproductive freedom is truly a reality for all of us."

Welcoming the support, Cisneros said that "I am so proud to have the endorsement of NARAL Pro-Choice America at a time when the fight to protect the constitutional right to abortion care is more urgent than ever."

"When we talk about healthcare as a human right that includes reproductive healthcare," she said. "As the only anti-choice Democrat left in the House of Representatives, Henry Cuellar continues to stand in the way of our reproductive rights and consistently sides with his Republican allies to make healthcare even more inaccessible in South Texas. Now more than ever, South Texas families deserve a representative that will fight tirelessly for affordable healthcare and their reproductive freedom, and Rep. Cuellar is not fighting for us."

As The Atlantic's Rachel Williams put it last year in an introduction to an interview with the congressman: "Henry Cuellar is not hip. The representative from Texas is one of the last anti-abortion, pro-gun Democrats left in Congress—and he doesn't apologize for it. He rails against socialism. He goes to church every Sunday and doesn't drink or smoke. He votes with President Donald Trump more often than just about any other House Democrat."

NARAL on Wednesday noted the role of Senate Bill 8—the recently enacted Texas legislation banning abortion at six weeks and empowering anti-choice vigilantes to enforce the law—in the 2022 primary, pointing out that "while Jessica Cisneros has worked to sound the alarm about S.B. 8, Rep. Henry Cuellar has been silent about Texas' abortion ban and its harmful impact."

Cisneros expressed support for federal legislation to codify Roe in a series of tweets about S.B. 8 last month, saying that "we need to elect people who will fight to protect our constitutional right to abortion and pass crucial legislation like the Women's Health Protection Act."

In contrast with her opponent, Cisneros also opposes the Hyde Amendment and supports Medicare for All. Her campaign website further declares that "when we fight for racial and economic justice, we must also fight for a reproductive justice framework that includes bodily autonomy, STI prevention and care, prenatal and pregnancy care, safe housing, and economic security as a fundamental human right."

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