By Angie Bado, TSB Publisher
On Saturday, Texas House Bill 2 passed with a vote of 19-11, despite the thousands of protestors who descended on the Capitol in Austin. The bill, which places new restrictions on abortions, will most likely force the closure of all but five of the 42 abortion clinics in the state. I, for one, am disappointed. I’m not thinking as a Republican, Democrat or and Independent. No, for me, it’s not about politics – it’s about and my rights as a woman.
I’m also angry, and I don’t think I’m alone. I’m angry that my state government feels it has the right to make such a personal decision for me – a decision that would concern my morality and my body. Abortion should not be a political issue, but an issue of choice between a woman, her partner, and the woman’s doctor. Isn’t abortion, after all, a moral issue, not a political issue?
Why is it that we keep making politics about abortion? There are, in my humble opinion, a myriad of other issues that should be addressed – education for example. Texas now ranks 49th in spending per pupil in the U.S. We must figure out a way to raise our educational standards and find a way to education the burgeoning Latino population in order to prevent a certain drain on our future economy. And then there are other problems our state is wrestling with: water, or lack thereof, transportation, immigration, and the continued rapid growth of our state’s population, all of which could lead to dire consequences for our state in the future if not addressed.
I’m angry because of the hypocrisy of it all. Our own state senator, Ken Paxton (R-Dist. 8), says that he is against more government control. His website says that he “promotes individual liberties and free enterprise, limits the size and scope of the state government and supports transparency at all levels of government promotes individual liberties and free enterprise, limits the size a nd scope of the state government…” But I ask you, with all due respect Mr. Senator, how does voting for a bill that strips women of opportunities to choose the health care they desire promote individual liberties? I’m having a difficult time wrapping my head around this.
“Pro-choice” does not mean “pro-death,” but rather, the right to choose what a woman feels is best for her situation. Nor can I find a definition for pro-choice that is “pro-abortion.” I believe that no one can know or appreciate the circumstance someone else is experiencing. No man can ever truly fathom the struggle of an unwanted pregnancy or the gut-wrenching, mind numbing fear and worry that accompanies carrying a child who may be born with birth defects for nine months. It’s not for me to judge why any woman would choose to terminate a pregnancy – that’s for her to come to terms with and I don’t believe that the majority of women in our state would make such a decision lightly.
I’m angry that Collin County Rep. Jodie Laubenberg (R-Parker), who authored this bill, and other Collin County Republican leaders have openly stated that they are on a mission to get rid of abortion in Texas. (I actually attended a local event where Laubenberg and other leaders in attendance referred to their efforts to end abortion in the state.) This bill, under the guise of “improving women’s health care,” smacks of an effort to do just that. Upgrading surgical centers by providing the now required male locker rooms, wider hallways and janitor closets will make a prodigious difference in the care a woman receives – really?
The bill also bans abortion at 20 weeks post-fertilization, require doctors performing abortions to have hospital admitting privileges within 30 miles of the abortion facility; require doctors to administer the abortion-inducing drug RU-486 (dubbed the “abortion pill”) in person, rather than allowing the woman to take it at home; and requires abortions — including drug-induced ones — to be performed in ambulatory surgical centers.
I understand that it must be difficult to take their personal feelings out of issues that our legislators must regularly address during their tenure. But what is in the best interest of all women in our state? Forcing the closure of women’s health care clinics because they are unable afford the updates that are now required?
Although Republicans insist that the bill is in the best interest of women improving healthcare , the bill’s regulations are so stringent that it will end up hampering available healthcare – not just abortions – for many Texas women. A faction of Texas Republicans make no bones about wanting to rid the state of abortion clinics, a move that began when Texas cut the budget for family planning and refused $30 million in federal funding for women’s health which was aimed at shutting down Planned Parenthood clinics across the state.
Make no mistake women of Texas, HB 2 is an attack on our freesdom to choose.
Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst actually tweeted this comment, along with the above photo on June 19: “We fought to pass SB5 thru the Senate last night, & this is why! #StandWithTXChildren #. Notice the picture states “If SB 5 passes, (and it did) it would essentially ban abortion statewide.
Meeting the standards required by the bill in the more rural areas of our state will be difficult, if not impossible, forcing most of the clinics that now offer abortions to close. That will leave many of the state’s disadvantaged population without accessible heath care for STD and cancer screenings.
Some health experts within the state have voiced concerns that women will be forced to go to Mexico for illegal or unsafe abortions. Women who can’t afford to go to a clinic already turn to purchasing black market, sometimes unsafe, abortion-inducing pills at flea markets. This number could now increase. Are we inadvertently sending a message to the underprivileged women in the state of Texas that we don’t care about their needs?
To be clear, I’m not pro-abortion and I also agree with those who find the thought of a post 20 week abortion repugnant. But, I’m angry that conservatives were not willing to consider the various amendments Democrats proposed in the interest of women’s health.
I’m concerned that the consequences of this new bill will be a step back for our state – back to, “coat-hanger” or “back alley abortions.” In Texas, approximately half of the pregnancies are unplanned (2011 statistic) and as more health care clinics are forced to close, this will only get worse. Could our legislators have found a way to set aside their differences and compromise on a bill that would have allowed the clinics to meet new guidelines over a period of time? It’s obvious that better health care for women is not the motivation here.
I’m angry about Gov. Perry’s willingness to call a second special session of the Texas legislature to the tune of $27,300 per day, or $819,000 for a 30-day special session to once again address the proposed abortion bill. I’m angry that our Governor chose to spend more tax payers’ dollars on another “emergency” session, when, in reality, the issues of transportation and the new sentencing guidelines for 17-year-olds convicted of capital murder could have been addressed during the first special session.
Lastly, I’m angry that our legislators clearly do not pay attention to the majority of Texans. That makes me wonder who exactly is the driving force behind their crusade. Is it the vocal minority, special interest groups pulling the purse strings, or is it simply their own beliefs? Or is it a combination of these?
According to a University of Texas / Texas Tribune poll “just 38 percent of Texans want to make abortion laws stricter. But they generally bristle at the idea of restricting abortion access significantly or altogether. Sixty percent of Americans feel that Roe vs. Wade should not be over turned according to a study conducted by the Pew Forum.” Clearly our politicians are not listening to the majority. That might be a mistake in coming elections.
This bill won’t prevent abortions from happening, it will simply encourage women to return to the pre-Roe vs. Wade era when, like my former mother in-law’s college roommate in 1950, women were forced to take desperate measures and submit to unsafe abortions.