I’m going to say it three times, hoping that when the 2007 Texas Legislature roosts in Austin in January, you’ll remember: Trigger laws do not protect your right to bear arms. Trigger laws do not protect your right to buy and keep guns. Trigger laws have nothing to do with gun control.
Nonetheless, those of you who like to keep the federal government out of your figurative (and locked) gun lockers should oppose the “trigger law” that State Senate District 7 Republican nominee Dan Patrick has promised to introduce during his first session. So-called “trigger laws” lie in wait in case right-wing optimism about the present Supreme Court’s disposition toward Roe v. Wade proves correct; should the Court overturn the 1973 ruling that confirmed abortion is a private matter between a woman and her doctor (and, I might add, did not cut her pastor or husband out of the equation, should she subscribe to either), abortion would become illegal immediately. Four states have some version of a trigger law in place: South Dakota, Illinois, Louisiana, and Kentucky. Three have policy statements on record against abortion, and eight others have proposed, but not yet passed, laws restricting access to abortion if Roe falls.
This spring, South Dakota — which has one besieged abortion clinic serviced by a Minnesota doctor — passed an anti-abortion torpedo aimed directly at Roe v. Wade. Thanks to a petition drive, the state’s voters may overturn the law in November before it has a chance to land at the Supreme Court, but in the meantime anti-choice activists are keeping their eyes on two late-term-abortion cases that the Supremes will hear in their upcoming session.
All of which is to say, Patrick may be be wise to introduce an anti-abortion bill in Texas before Texans who believe in women’s reproductive rights become as alarmed as those belated South Dakotans. In its “news” story “scooping” Patrick’s plans, Texasinsider.org observed that “A trigger law would serve to prevent costly litigation and delays in implementation of a pro-life environment in Texas.” (Read: “… with any luck would circumvent the expensive and bothersome ritual of democratic debate.”)
But Patrick, a radio-personality-cum-politician in the Pappy O’Daniel vein, is a ready-shoot-aim kind of guy. Calendrical types will note he hasn’t actually been elected yet, but political analysts, and Patrick, think he’s a shoo-in because he’s running in an overwhelmingly Republican East-Texas district. It doesn’t hurt that a Patrick-controlled media company, Dallas Broadcasting, recently purchased a Highland Park radio station that will broadcast the candidate’s conservative message 35,000 watts strong throughout DFW and its suburbs. Patrick has asked conservative officeholders such as State Rep Bill Keffer of Dallas to join him on the airwaves. Lonestartimes.com quoted Patrick as saying, “We believe our unique niche of local, state, and federal issues, based on a Judeo-Christian foundation, will be as successful in Dallas as it is in Houston.” Houston being where Patrick used the popularity he built in his drivetime slot on KSEV to beat out three political veterans — including the one endorsed by vacating Senator Jon Lindsay — for the District 7 cakewalk (Patrick’s son son took over his radio duties during the primary, but after his opponent released him from equal-airtime obligations, he was back at the mic).
Some amusing posts in response to the Lone Star Times story:
“Some cynical folks might say that this has more to do with positioning a certain radio host for higher office than anything else.”
“Oh no, looks like its a goldwater version of clearchannel!”
Which, I guess, makes Clear Channel the Reagan version of … oh, never mind. The important thing is to do the numbers; Patrick has. “… We will now have the potential to reach nearly 50 percent of the people who vote in November elections and close to 60 percent of the people who vote in Republican primaries,” he boasted to Lone Star Times. That’s a powerful bully pulpit for his anti-choice views. Those of us who value reproductive rights — and the gains in education, health, and economic stability that they bring to mothers and their children — need to begin fighting Patrick and his retrograde notions before we find ourselves in South Dakota’s shoes.