Courtesy of Eesha Pandit
Eesha Pandit is a Houston-based writer, activist and consultant for social justice organizations.
Eesha Pandit talks with Sarah Jaffe about her work organizing for reproductive justice and some beautiful things that are happening in her home state of Texas.
“Mike Pence has been on a crusade in his own state to not just limit access to abortion, but to criminalize abortion, to make it a crime to get an abortion. In Mike Pence’s state of Indiana the first women that we know of have been incarcerated for having abortions and arguably, also, for having an unplanned miscarriage. Not to put too fine a point on it, but the law that was used to criminalize Purvi Patel in 2013 to criminalize her abortion, or miscarriage, as she claims, was actually a law that was intended to protect pregnant women from violence, to criminalize violence against women. Under his leadership, that state used a violence against women law to incarcerate a pregnant woman who had had a miscarriage. His ideology on this issue knows no bounds. It is a really important piece of his political legacy in the State of Indiana that we just can’t forget.
“It is hard to over-emphasize how dire it is to have politicians messing around with healthcare and trying to legislate healthcare that actually is life and death. It is just so stark at this point that we even have to keep saying, 'This is actually a medical issue. You really should have nothing to say about this. You are not medical professionals. You should not be able to say what doctors can and cannot do.
“Houston is a blue city in a solidly purple state; [it's] red courtesy of gerrymandering and making voting inaccessible to so many folks in Texas. But, that being said, Houston went pretty solidly blue and supportive of Hillary Clinton. We also had two really significant victories that were a result of actively, intentionally intersectional organizing in Houston. Those were the electoral defeats of Devon Anderson, our District Attorney, and Sheriff Ron Hickman who both are conservatives and who campaigned on a racist law-and-order message. They were replaced by Kim Ogg and Sheriff Ed Gonzalez, who both campaigned on progressive pro-immigrants’ rights and pro-criminal justice system reform.
The pressure for those victories was really a result of local organizing...
Those coalitions that came together to form those electoral victories are now working together in the resistance. One of the things that you will see is folks from the LGBT community and from the racial justice advocacy community showing up to lobby and to speak and to testify against the anti-immigrant bill and vice versa.
It's one of the most beautiful things that is happening in the Texas Legislature now, and it is really satisfying to see the shock on the legislators faces when they are like, 'Wait, what are you doing here? You are not an undocumented immigrant. What are you doing here to talk about this?' and things like, 'What are all these folks doing here to support reproductive justice?' It is really kind of amazing to see that happening.”
Interviews for Resistance is a project of Sarah Jaffe, with assistance from Laura Feuillebois and support from the Nation Institute.