As most of us know by now the vast state of Texas has closed down 80% of its abortion clinics thanks to a hard right ideological Republican Legislature that wishes to imposes its beliefs and religious values on all of us. Especially women with no or little means.
In August U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel (a G.W. Bush appointee) blocked the requirement that all abortions must take place in ambulatory services centers or mini hospitals. He wrote that such obstacles will reduce meaningful access to abortion care for many women.
When viewed in the context of the other state-imposed obstacles a woman faces when seeking an abortion in Texas—including a sonogram requirement, a waiting period, the reduced number of abortion-performing physicians resulting from the admitting privilege requirement—the court is firmly convinced that the State has placed unreasonable obstacles in the path of woman’s ability to obtain a previability abortion. These substantial obstacles have reached a tipping point that threatens to “chip away at the private choice shielded by Roe”... -
Chipping away at Roe V. Wade has been the far right's goal since the law's inception. Greg Abbott and Texas Republican lawmakers are more than willing to help the process along.
Greg Abbott immediately appealed Judge Yeakel's ruling to a federal appellate Court, the hyper conservative 5th Circuit, which agreed with the state. The 5th Circuit's decision leaves one of the largest states in the U.S. with eight abortion clinics.
During the first recent gubernatorial debate in September Greg Abbott tried his best to side step questions about equal pay or answer questions as to why his policies don't do enough to protect women. But Mr. Abbott did step up to admit that he is Catholic and therefore pro-life.
Fine. That is his choice and right. But it does not mean he and other lawmakers like him should be able to interfere with a woman's liberty that includes her right to choose. Nor should Mr. Abbott and his ilk be allowed to impose their will, through an unnecessary and harshly restrictive law, on a woman's family planning decisions. If Greg Abbott was really pro-life as he claims, he would do far more to help the living. Especially the poor who struggle each and every day to barely survive. And if he really believed in personal freedom and liberty he would let women decide for themselves.
Greg Abbott, while promoting his religious beliefs, may have forgotten a small bare bones fact of American history and why many of us ended up in this country. For more than a few of our ancestors fled here in order to escape religious persecution and/or political retribution.
But religion is merely a convenient curtain behind which Mr. Abbott can hide. If Mr. Abbott were a true Catholic he would remember that Jesus embraced a message of love and forgiveness. He urged all Christians to show mercy for the poor. I know of Catholic priests who have advised their female church members to follow their conscience where family making decisions are concerned.
Unfortunately the opposite of compassion for the poor is true because the restrictions of the anti-abortion law imposes enormous hardships for women with little or no means. And yet access to abortion is quite easy, affordable and simple for wealthy women in Texas. This is the Republican way.
In a recent interview about the anti abortion law Greg Abbott insisted that the lack of access to women's health clinics are manageable inconveniences.
Greg Abbott smugly mused that a drive of 230-250 miles is a mere inconvenience for women. I guess women in the small government state of Texas have the personal freedom and liberty to drive 230-250 miles because Greg Abbott and his Republican colleagues want to impose regulations on our female reproductive parts and decision making capabilities. According to Greg Abbott corporations are more human and deserving of rights and freedom than women.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott (R) and his colleagues wrote in the memo that "the vast majority of Texas residents" still live "within comfortable driving distance (150 miles)" of an abortion provider. For the women who live in the farther-flung regions of the state, such as the low-income Rio Grande Valley near the Mexico border, Abbott wrote, "abortion can be accessed by driving approximately 230-250 miles -- an inconvenience, but still a manageable one."
What would Mr. Abbott know about manageable inconveniences?
After he suffered from a tragic accident in which he could no longer walk, Mr. Abbott filed lawsuits
against those who played a role in the accident that disabled him. He won handsomely and has therefore more than enough resources to take care of his needs for the rest of his life. Unfortunately, as a state associate Supreme Court justice and Attorney General, Greg Abbott has blocked the same access to the same resources for other disabled victims.
What would Greg Abbott know about a mother of three in South Texas in which she and her husband survive on the salaries of three minimum wage jobs?
They can barely make ends meet and must rely on federal subsidies for their children.
When an unexpected expense occurs, i.e. a car repair, the family may have to do without a meal or two. Or perhaps borrow money from family or friends or pawn a cherished possession.
This woman, let's call her Elizabeth, has been cut off from affordable contraception because the anti-abortion law closed down the women's health care clinic in her community. The family cannot afford to participate in the Affordable Care Act and because Governor Rick Perry and Attorney General Greg Abbott refuse to accept federally expanded Medicaid the family is simply out of luck. Despite the fact that a President from Texas, LBJ, signed a bill that created Medicaid, the state has always been very stingy with its benefits.
You could say that the idea for Medicaid began in Texas. In the late 1920s, a middle-school teacher named Lyndon B. Johnson saw the crushing poverty and inequality his Mexican-American students faced in the small South Texas town of Cotulla. Nearly 40 years later, then-President Johnson declared a War on Poverty and, in 1965, signed the bill that created Medicaid—a program funded jointly by the states and the federal government to provide health insurance to low-income Americans. It was part of his vision for a “Great Society,” which he boldly defined as “a society where no child will go unfed, and no youngster will go unschooled.”
Johnson probably couldn’t have imagined the program’s impact. In the past 47 years, Medicaid has provided medical care to hundreds of millions of Americans—including low-income children, the elderly, disabled, and pregnant women—and has saved millions of lives. More than 50 million are currently enrolled.
In Johnson’s home state, however, the commitment to Medicaid has always been lackluster at best. Texas’ Medicaid program spends less than the national average per enrollee, and reimburses doctors, hospitals and other providers less than the national average. In many areas, the Texas program pays for only the minimum standards required by the federal government. One in four Texans—6.1 million people—lack health insurance, the highest percentage in the country.
So, what happens next for Elizabeth and her family, given she no longer has access to affordable family planning methods?
A fourth baby is on the way.
Elizabeth and her husband Joe are beside themselves. They cannot, under any circumstances, afford another child. An abortion is their only option. But neither has a job with paid time off.
A trip from S. Texas to San Antonio or Houston will require at least one, likely two days off. The drive is three to five hours, one way. Gas costs approximately $3.19 per gallon. The car, a gift from Joe's parents, is twelve years old.
Elizabeth will have to drive herself because Joe has to work and stay with the children. She might have to spend the night in a motel. Alone.
The couple does the math. They simply can't afford a trip that requires two days without pay, a 250-300 mile drive with an overnight of at least $79.00. In a risky car that might need repairs along the way. The cost of an abortion in the state has gone from $400 to $700 thanks to the new and costly requirements.
Breaking. October 12, 12:50 p.m. CDT. The outcome of the closing of 80% of women's health clinics has resulted in higher fees and longer waits. The eight clinics are completely overwhelmed.
Ken Lambrecht expected a spike in calls to his Dallas abortion clinic the day after a dozen other facilities closed across the state, but he wasn't prepared for the surge the week after — a flood of calls, many from women desperate for help and suddenly hundreds of miles from the nearest open clinic.
Desperate times call for desperate measures.
He did not anticipate a mother would call seeking an abortion for her daughter and, when told the next available appointment was not for another three weeks, say, “we might as well go to Mexico” and hang up the phone.
Elizabeth enters the vile era pre-Roe v. Wade.
Back alley abortions.
Greg Abbott has no clue. Or he chooses to be willfully blind.
While Elizabeth and Joe are fictional characters their story is not. I read or hear about situations such as this everyday.
Greg Abbott and the Texas Republican Party's scheme to protect women's health is a shameless scam. It has nothing to do with protecting women's health and everything to do with showing its contempt for the poor.
Two years ago, Texas had a family planning safety net that was far from perfect, and far from addressing the totality of the state’s needs, but it worked, and it was getting better all the time: Enrollment in the state’s family planning program was on the rise, while the Medicaid Women’s Health Program saved taxpayers millions and provided contraception and cancer screenings for an ever-growing number of Texans. In 2011, the number of abortions in the state hit its lowest point in a decade, which, if anti-choice conservatives are to be believed, has long been their goal.
But then came the Tea Party, and an increasingly wheels-off governor hell-bent on taking a hard right turn all the way to the White House. Legislators frothed over the prospect of staking out the highest point on the “pro-life” hill, outdoing themselves to be the most opposed to Planned Parenthood, the biggest enemy of the federal government. Gleefully, Texas Republicans sneered at cost-saving contraceptive programs and clutched every available pearl at the prospect of providing medically sound sex education to the state’s schoolchildren.
Today the evidence shows, increasingly, that this political peacocking has put the poorest Texans in real danger.
In his tenure as a state associate Supreme Court Justice and state Attorney General, Greg Abbott has demonstrated an abject lack of compassion for anyone in need of the support and services a state government should provide.
The Attorney General is known to gin up fears about privacy in order to coverup his responsibility in one of the biggest data breaches in Texas history.
Poor women are not the only ones loathed by Greg Abbott, unfortunately. Minorities, the elderly and college students should dare not vote.
The Attorney General of Texas is actually going to defend a poll tax.
Surely Texas. We can do far better than Greg Abbott.
Early voting: October 20-31
Election day: November 4, 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.