By Michael Mottern
The untimely death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the swift nomination of anti-choice jurist Amy Coney Barrett by President Trump to replace Ginsburg has endangered Roe v Wade as never before. If Barrett is confirmed prior to Election Day, as is likely, she will be the decisive vote on the Supreme Court needed to overturn Wade, thereby ending the constitutional right that women have had since 1973 to terminate their pregnancies in consultation with their physicians.
Places in the US that have been starving for pro-choice representation will be especially hard hit. For instance, the constituents of Kansas’ 37th State House District have been poorly served by seven-term incumbent Stan Frownfelter, an adamantly anti-abortion neo-liberal Democrat who has used his stature as the #2 State House Democrat to campaign successfully against reproductive freedom for women. Last April, Aaron Coleman declared his candidacy in the Democratic primary against Frownfelter. As a dishwasher and a student at Johnson County Community College, Coleman reflects the working class constituency of his district. He is a pro-choice Democrat and a Berniecrat. Among other reasons, that is why Social Democrats USA (SDUSA) endorsed him to better represent the 37th District. And, as it turns out, he won the primary in a close race.
But then, the contest took an unusual turn which caused it to gain a national spotlight. It emerged in the press that Coleman had endured a difficult family life – one brother had committed suicide; he himself had been diagnosed with PTSD as a child – but also that, as a young teenager, he had subjected three girls in middle school to various forms of cyberbullying (phone stalking, fat shaming, revenge porn). While he had apologized to them and offered to make amends at that time, the new publicity plus his father’s being admitted to the hospital compelled him to drop out of the race.
Coleman urged anyone in his district with a platform identical to his to take up the fight against Frownfelter, but two days passed and no one seriously took up the challenge. To his surprise, several women who had voted for him urged him to get back into the race, and he did just that. But what would prompt these women to push for Coleman like that, knowing what he did to those girls years earlier? Because, while 13 is an unlucky number, Stan Frownfelter has elevated that to an art form. Since 2007, he has taken these 13 actions on the following anti-abortion bills in Kansas, all of which passed:
- Voted for HB 2006 (2007) Legal Status of an Unborn Child/Fetus
- Voted for the Mah Amendment (2008) Abortion Reporting Requirements
- Voted for SB 389 (2008) Partial Birth / Late-Term Abortion Law Amendments
- Voted for SB 238 (2009) Pre-Abortion Notification Requirement Amendment
- Voted for HB 2206 (2009) Partial Birth / Late Term Abortion Reporting Requirements
- Voted for SB 218 (2009) Partial-Birth / Late-Term Abortion Law Amendments
- Voted for HB 2115 (2010) Late-term / Partial Birth Abortion Reporting Requirements
- Voted for HB 2218 (2011) Abortion Requirements
- Voted for HB 2035 (2011) Amending Statures Regulating Abortion
- Voted for SB 36 (2011) Licensing of Abortion Clinics
- Voted for HB 2075 (2011) Prohibiting insurance coverage of abortion.
- Voted for SB 95 (2015) Prohibiting D & E abortion.
- Has not apologized for or made amends for any of the above votes.
Given the instincts of his female supporters and what is at stake nationally, Social Democrats USA endorses Democratic nominee Aaron Coleman for the Kansas State House of Representatives, District 37 on November 3. While his political record of achievement is scant – he just turned 20 – it is promising. Last January, Coleman was named precinct committeeman for his district and was formally elected to a two-year term in August. In that time, he has appointed four pro-choice Democrats to his precinct committee. He has enthusiastically endorsed the Biden/Harris presidential ticket while Frownfelter, now running against Coleman as a write-in candidate supported by the Kansas Democratic political establishment, has not endorsed the ticket, even at this late date.
Aaron Coleman is a member of SDUSA. So, some advice for Comrade Coleman: if you are elected, you don’t have to reach out, but as a statesmanlike gesture, you should convene an atonement summit to which the women that you cyberbullied as teenagers would be invited. They could introduce constructive proposals that you could act on in your capacity as State House representative, the fulfillment of which would demonstrate that your apologies to them were sincere and that you have indeed made amends.
Michael Mottern is Vice-Chair of Social Democrats USA.