WASHINGTON — A majority of Republican members from the Texas congressional delegation have remained silent after the Supreme Court allowed a stringent Texas law banning abortions at 6 weeks of pregnancy to remain in place.
BuzzFeed News contacted all of the Texas Republicans in the House of Representatives and both of the state’s senators — out of a total of 25 officials, just 4 responded, and only 1 referred to the case. And few have said anything on Twitter or in other public statements about the law, while their Democratic colleagues rail against it. Many of the most vocal anti-abortion advocates in the delegation missed an opportunity to gloat about the conservative triumph.
“Congressman Cloud is unavailable to give a statement at this time,” a spokesperson for Rep. Michael Cloud, who represents Texas’s 27th congressional district, told BuzzFeed News. “Best of luck on your deadline.”
A spokesperson for Sen. Ted Cruz said that he was “proud” that Texas was “leading the charge to defend life.”
“Every life is a gift from God, and without life, there is no liberty,” Cruz's office said. “The question of abortion legislation should be returned to the states.” But Cruz, who has led multiple pushes to regulate abortions, remained silent on Twitter and brushed aside questions about the details of SB 8.
Sen. John Cornyn’s office did not respond to multiple requests for comment on the new law. While the senator’s official account is active and commenting on China, fossil fuels, and Afghanistan, he gave little attention to the new law in his home state. Instead of celebrating the win, Cornyn retweeted a repudiation of Hillary Clinton’s tweet on the Supreme Court decision.
There were only three Republican members of Congress from the state who more explicitly celebrated the law on Twitter once it went into effect — Rep. Chip Roy, who said he was “even prouder than usual to be a Texan today,” Rep. Ronny Jackson, former president Donald Trump’s onetime doctor, who thanked Trump for the court ruling, and Rep. Dan Crenshaw.
The silence speaks to the country’s divide on abortion and the fight each side faces to win over voters who care deeply about the issue. Republicans have historically campaigned around abortion bans, but shifting opinions and the potential for Democrats to be energized by losing abortion rights have complicated the strategy.
An NBC poll released on Wednesday found that 54% of Americans believe abortions should be legal all or most of the time.
While Republicans have been mostly silent, Democrats in the delegation have been vocal about their opposition. Rep. Joaquin Castro released a statement saying the law incentivizes strangers “with a $10,000 bounty to insert themselves in the middle of a woman’s most personal and private decision.”
Rep. Veronica Escobar called the law “draconian” in a tweet, and Rep. Colin Allred vowed to vote in favor of legislation Speaker Nancy Pelosi promised to put forth in order to codify the abortion rights set forth by Roe v. Wade. (The House bill will likely stall in the Senate.)
The legal fight over the law will now go back to the US Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit and could still make its way back to the Supreme Court. In the meantime, lawmakers in states including Florida, Arkansas, and South Dakota are already looking to copy and paste the same enforcement strategy.