I read an article a few days ago about the effect the new Texas anti-abortion law is having on the ability of Texas women to end unwanted pregnancies. Not surprisingly, it's getting much more difficult.
The Texas law requires any clinic offering abortion services ensure its doctors have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. Ostensibly, the purpose of the requirement is to protect the patient's health and safety by guaranteeing rapid hospital admittance should something go awry during an abortion procedure. Sounds reasonable on the surface but there's a catch.
What happens if a clinic's physicians aren't able to gain admitting privileges at any nearby hospital, despite repeated efforts to do so? That's been a common experience for Texas abortion clinics and the article noted a number which have either closed or no longer offer abortion services. Women in McAllen, in southern Texas, now have to travel 170 miles to find a clinic which will end an unplanned pregnancy. Two abortion clinics have closed in Dallas, two in Fort Worth, three closed in San Antonio, and none remain in Waco or the entire Texas Panhandle. Overall, a third of all such clinics in Texas have closed.
In place of abortion clinics, what have been springing up everywhere in Texas are "crisis-pregnancy" centers. Many of these aren't really medical facilities, though the white coats and administration of sonograms probably fool the women who enter. The goal of these centers is to convince pregnant women to keep their babies. The sonograms aren't diagnostic. They're just part of the persuasion.
The rise of these centers is not an accident. The Texas state health department has been funneling money to them from its family-planning budget for years.
Given all this, I think it's safe to say there are going to be more women in Texas giving birth to babies they weren't planning to have. Which leads me to the question -- what should the state's responsibility be after these women give birth?
By making it increasingly difficult for a Texas woman to end an unwanted pregnancy, the Texas state government is clearly encouraging the woman to have the child. Surely, having shown such an interest in the child being born, the state must have an equally intense interest in what happens to the child after birth. Indeed, I would argue the state has signaled its willingness to assume the role of de facto parent, financially speaking.
A child born to a woman who wasn't ready to become a mother is likely off to a bad start. There are many reasons why a woman might want to end a pregnancy but lack of financial resources to raise a child has to rank right up there. In such a case, when the state has effectively counseled the woman to keep the baby by making it very difficult for her to obtain a legal abortion, is it not reasonable for the woman to turn to the state for financial assistance in the form of child support?
Seems to me, having evinced such an interest in the child, the state should be receptive to financial involvement in the child's upbringing. Besides, allowing the child grow up in poverty just increases the chances the child will engage in activities as a teen or adult which are detrimental to other Texans. So, because of both its "parental" interest in the child's welfare and its desire to protect other Texans, one would think the Texas government would want the child to grown up in a middle class environment, healthy and well educated, and would be willing to make that happen financially.
Of course, back in the real world, I'm sure the Texas government would want nothing to do with this concept. They'd probably consider it laughable. And they wouldn't see the hypocrisy inherent in their reaction.
That's one of the problems I have with the whole "right to life" movement. "Right to life" advocates want to interfere with a woman's right to make her own reproductive decisions but then walk away from any responsibility for the consequences of forcing her to have a child she didn't want or plan for. In my opinion, they shouldn't be allowed to have it both ways. Either they should leave the decision entirely to the woman, with no barriers to abortion if that's what she decides, or they should accept financial responsibility for the child after birth.
I'd sure love to see the courts award child support to Texas women who acquiesced to motherhood because the law made obtaining a legal abortion so difficult. Might just make Texas and the other states who have passed similar laws think twice about sticking their noses where they don't belong.