Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi is raising money for reproductive justice and voting rights groups in Texas in protest of two recently passed Texas laws imposing draconian restrictions on voting and reproductive health procedures.
In a series of tweets on Thursday, Lakshmi slammed Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and his handling of the humanitarian crisis that has brought hundreds of Haitian refugees to the Texas border, among other issues including SB8, the bill recently signed into law by Abbott that bans all abortion procedures after six weeks of pregnancy. “Texans are up against so much right now — a hateful anti-abortion bill, erasure of voting rights, and a humanitarian and constitutional crisis at the border,” Lakshmi wrote. “Houston is one of the most diverse cities in the U.S. Its government and the majority of its people oppose Gov. Abbott’s heinous bills.”
Lakshmi’s comments came after Bravo announced that its 19th season of Top Chef would film in Houston, news that was (mostly) received joyfully in H-Town but was more controversial outside of the city. Some fans criticized the show’s decision to film in Texas at all, based on the restrictive abortion and voting laws. “That’s a lot of money going to a state that doesn’t believe in a woman’s right to choose what happens to her body,” wrote one commenter on Instagram.
Arguably in an oblique response to those criticisms, Lakshmi argued that Top Chef intends to showcase the communities most impacted by these laws. “Our show highlights the small businesses that hire the very same women, BIPOC people and low-income folks that these laws harm most,” she wrote. “The government doesn’t have the right to force people to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term.”
The beneficiaries of the fundraiser promoted by Lakshmi on Twitter, originally established by Texas reproductive justice organization Avow, include a host of Texas abortion funds, including Fund Texas Choice, and Jane’s Due Process, an organization that helps people under the age of 18 navigate the legal process of obtaining an abortion.
The 19th season of Top Chef is currently filming in Houston, but no premiere date for the show has been announced just yet.