War on Women: Texas Legislature Showing Ignorance On Women’s Health

Posted on May 1, 2012

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The battle is still on.   Texas already had a law forbidding any government funding to specific clinics that provide abortions.  You would think this pretty much covered it:  no taxpayer-funded abortions, period.  But last year, Texas Republicans passed a law prohibiting the state’s Women’s Health Program from funding any organization affiliated with abortion providers.  The immediate impact is on Planned Parenthood, which, believe it or not, actually has at least eight clinics in Texas that do not  provide abortions.  Yep,  Planned Parenthood everywhere provides a plethora of reproductive and sexual health services like prenatal care, pelvic examinations, testing and treatment for STDs, mammograms, contraception, and counseling about menopause and osteoporosis, to name but a few things.  You know – kind of like stuff one might find in a state-run “Women’s Health Program.”

But never you mind about all those pesky facts.  The GOP has ruled that no state funds will be provided for those things, so long as the name “Planned Parenthood” so much as wafts anywhere near the facilities.  Talk about throwing out the baby with the bathwater!

Fortunately a federal judge, Lee Yeakel, has ruled in favor of Planned Parenthood’s claim that their exclusion from the state program is unconstitutional, as it makes their participation in the program dependent on restricting their freedom of speech and freedom of association.  And that, in turn, leaves a lot of poor women with no access to basic health services.  But this ruling is nowhere near saving the day for these clinics:  as Chris Tomlinson and Angela Brown write for the Associated Press, “Texas officials have said that if the state is forced to include Planned Parenthood, they will likely shut down the program that serves basic health care and contraception to 130,000 poor women.”

That’s right, the GOP of Texas has ruled that it is not enough to simply deny funding for abortions, or to ensure that no state funds reach clinics which perform them; it has ruled that yea, verily, it is better to strike down the entire Women’s Health Program and all that is good and wholesome in it, than to allow a helpful, useful service to stand with even the vaguest association with an abortion provider.  Never mind that exactly zero dollars in that program will go to abortions.  I would say that this is cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s own face, but a bunch of GOP white men in the state legislature aren’t hurting themselves one bit with these spiteful decisions.  They are only hurting poor women, poor families, and poor children.

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