Texas Goes Too Far

Texas may soon demonstrate what it looks like to drastically cut both access to family planning and abortion. Earlier this week, I wrote about the imminent loss of Texas's Medicaid Women's Health Program, which provides poor women with things like birth control and cancer screenings. But that's just the tip of the iceberg. As budget negotiations wrap up this week, family-planning funds are being gutted, so much so that family-planning clinics like Planned Parenthood could receive no money at all from the state government.

For poor women, especially in rural areas, clinics closing because of the budget cuts could leave them without access to contraception. If any of those women get pregnant and decide to get an abortion, they'll find cuts for those services, too. The Texas House passed a measure, currently on its way to becoming law, that will deny funding to all hospitals and health-care clinics that provide abortion or "abortion related services," whatever that means. So, even women who scrape together the money to pay for an abortion (since Medicaid doesn't cover it) will still have to locate a provider who has given up its public funding to perform abortions.

Finding an abortion provider is just the first challenge. Before an abortion, women must now get a sonogram, thanks to the new law signed by Gov. Rick Perry. This is not a regular sonogram where a device is applied to a woman's stomach, this is an invasive procedure in which the device is inserted into a woman's vagina. Doctors will then have to describe the fetus in detail (how big are its arms, legs, etc.) and ask the woman seeking an abortion whether they want to listen to the fetus's heartbeat. Then as if any woman would have really gone through all this trouble unless she was really sure she wanted an abortion, she must wait 24 hours to have the procedure. That's as long as she lives within 100 miles of the clinic.

It's no wonder some lawmakers in Texas are warning that women will begin going underground to get abortions illegally. If these bills pass as they're expected to, Texas may successfully recreate the 1950s-style oppression its so nostalgic for.

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