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Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) speaks with reporters outside on Capitol Hill on June 27, 2019. (Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Cisneros Slams Cuellar for Being Only House Democrat to Vote Against Abortion Rights

"Once again Henry Cuellar refused to stand up for South Texans' reproductive freedom."

Jake Johnson

Texas congressional candidate Jessica Cisneros on Friday slammed Rep. Henry Cuellar—the U.S. House member she is aiming to unseat—for being the lone Democrat to vote against legislation that would codify abortion rights into federal law.

Shortly after the House passed the Women's Health Protection Act by a vote of 218-211 Friday afternoon, Cisneros released a video calling out Cuellar for "once again" refusing to "stand up for South Texans' reproductive freedom." Every House Republican who was present joined Cuellar in voting no.

"He's chosen to stand with his Republican allies and turn his back to South Texans' families and our healthcare," said Cisneros, who narrowly lost to Cuellar in the 2020 Democratic primary for Texas' 28th Congressional District. Cisneros announced in August that she would challenge Cuellar again, and she quickly won the support of NARAL Pro-Choice America and other reproductive rights groups.

"Even after our state's Republican leaders just passed the country's most restrictive abortion ban, almost ending all abortion access in Texas, our congressman refuses to defend our reproductive rights," Cisneros said in her video statement.

Watch:

The Women's Health Protection Act represents Democrats' legislative attempt to counter the GOP's nationwide assault on reproductive freedoms, a longstanding conservative effort that rapidly gained steam after the U.S. Supreme Court allowed Texas' near-total abortion ban to take effect earlier this month. Several Republican-led states are already moving to replicate Texas' law, which empowers private individuals—rather than state officials—to enforce the ban.

Despite his well-known anti-choice views, the House Democratic leadership has refused to distance itself from Cuellar. Last year, as Common Dreams reported, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) publicly backed Cuellar over Cisneros, expressing hope that the incumbent would cruise to a "resounding victory."

Cuellar ultimately defeated his progressive challenger by just over three percentage points.

"With the future of Roe v. Wade undoubtedly on the line," Cisneros said Friday, "it's unfathomable that Henry Cuellar would stand in the way of protecting and expanding access to healthcare. Now more than ever, we need representatives in Congress who will be unapologetically pro-choice."


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