How Americans can secure abortion rights when courts and politicians won’t

Almost 10 years ago, I stood on the floor of the Texas state Senate in front of my colleagues, wired and tired. For just under 13 hours, I filibustered to stop a disastrous piece of legislation that threatened to devastate reproductive health care in Texas.

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That day was a test of physical and mental stamina, but it paled in comparison to the struggle I knew people across the state would face if that draconian anti-abortion bill became law. We stopped the bill from passing that night, but it ultimately did go through. When the Supreme Court overturned the law three years later, it felt like vindication.

But now all abortion rights are at risk. A recently leaked draft opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito overturns Roe v. Wade, the case securing the right to an abortion. The reversal is expected to stand when the Supreme Court officially hands down its decision this summer.

In the wake of that ruling, we will have to fight like never before against state laws sure to proliferate. But unfortunately, when we’ve previously challenged these laws in Republican-led state legislatures and in court, we’ve lost. It’s time to recognize that we may need a new weapon.

There’s a path forward in the states: If the Supreme Court does indeed overturn Roe, enshrining reproductive rights in state constitutions via ballot measures will guarantee the protection of reproductive health care for years to come, particularly in states where Republicans control the legislature. Because ballot initiatives let voters take matters into their own hands, they must be a central part of the comprehensive strategy to protect abortion rights wherever they are allowed.

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