The demographics of Texas voters is a growing concern for many of the state’s Republicans, who worry that the rising number of Latinos could turn the state from a solid red to purple, or even eventually blue. Their power as a party already showed signs of weakness this summer when it took not one, but two special sessions in order to get a simple majority vote to pass a massive omnibus abortion bill that could close down most of the clinics in the state.
Barry Smitherman, who is running for the GOP Attorney General nomination, has a simple way to turn that trend around. Smitherman says: “more babies, less abortion!”
According to the Texas Tribune, Smitherman, speaking at a recent “leadership circle” luncheon for Texas Alliance for Life, told the attendees that the state would be in much better shape economically and politically if it weren’t for abortion since the unborn “would have voted Republican.”
In fact, the best thing those in attendance could do for the party is go home and make a new batch of voters. “Now [wife] Marijane and I had four children, so we’re doing our part, but some people are not having enough children and in some cases it’s either zero or one and this makes it very challenging going forward,”warned Smitherman.
If the end goal is to make more babies, Texas is certainly on its way. Family planning clinics that help poor, uninsured and rural women and girls obtain contraception have been closing at an alarming rate thanks to the state’s 2011 revamp of allocation of Title X funds. Over $2 million in funding went unspent while more than 60 clinics across the state closed, according to the Texas Observer.
Will those unintended new voters cast their ballots for the GOP, as Smitherman claims? Or will they move the state further towards blue, especially as those most likely to be affected by contraception defunding and abortion clinic closings are the Latina population of the state, who are less likely to be insured, to have the means to access distant clinics or to pay copious out of pocket expenses for birth control?
With extremist, anti-women and anti-health care GOP leaders like Smitherman, current Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst and presidential aspirant Rick Perry, it’s hard to imagine the entirety of this new batch of young voters automatically embracing the Republican party, regardless of Smitherman’s tortured claims otherwise.