I don't usually get all political-like on this blog. I do pay attention to politics, though, and I pay attention to the constant erosion of rights that's been happening in this country. It's pretty horrifying, really. And as a woman I've been following the Texas debates over the ridiculously restrictive abortion bill pretty closely, because it's not just about Texas. Let's ignore the dirty and underhanded skirting of the rules and laws in Texas regarding parliamentary procedures, and focus only on the bill itself, shall we?
In fact, it's not about abortion, although the Republicans would REALLY like you to ignore that fact, because screaming "KILLING BABIES" gets them blind support for a bill that effectively enslaves a large population in their state to women's bodies. No, I'm not being dramatic: let's review.
First of all, the 20 week ban is a straw-man intended to get the pure reactive response of pro-lifers. I'd wager $100 that said reactions are by people who only saw the Fox News headlines and didn't bother to read the actual bill. According to the most recent CDC statistics (2008), 91.4% of reported abortions occurred prior to 13 weeks. 91.4%. That means 91.4% of the Texas bill banning abortions after 20 weeks has NOTHING to do with the abortions themselves. If you've listened to any of the testimony at all (it's live-streamed, by the way), you'd hear that most of the less-than-10% of women who have an abortion after they've made it halfway through their pregnancy do so for a medically necessary reasons.
Oh Conservative Texas Legislators: Do you REALLY think a woman who's carried life inside her for 20 weeks would arbitrarily end it? Do you REALLY think a woman should be forced to carry a stillborn corpse to term (which is exactly what would've happened for many of the women providing testimony)? More importantly, who exactly give you the right to judge another woman or family for THEIR choices in this life, and decide for another adult what's best for them and their family?
Are there outliers, women who truly use abortion as birth control? I'm sure there are. There are outliers on both sides. Outliers are OUTLIERS...but this bill focuses on them to distract people from the real issue.
The real issue here is HEALTHCARE for women, and male legislators attempting to control the less-privileged people in their state. Oh, you think I'm avoiding the KILLING BABIES issue? Let's review.
The Texas abortion bill will, in effect, close many of the affordable health care clinics in Texas. Is that an issue for the well off and/or wealthy women in the state? Nope: they can likely afford to travel to the few remaining clinics if they need to. So in practice, this bill removes not only abortion but family planning and birth control from a population of women unable to take time off of work or travel a few hundred miles to see a doctor.
This is in the wake of two major blows to women owning their own bodies and reproductive cycles: Planned Parenthood getting effectively kicked out of Texas via defunding, and abstinence-only sex education. BOTH of these resources educate women on how their body works and what can be done to prevent pregnancy.
What was the Senate's response when birth control was brought up in yesterday's debate? "Use condoms."
Hmm. Aren't condoms a MALE BIRTH CONTROL? So...what Texas Conservatives are really saying is: you're a slut if you have sex before marriage and deserve what you get, because we don't believe you have the right to control your own health care: it's up to the MAN (via a condom) to choose whether you get pregnant or now.
Birth control freed women from the patriarchal control of their bodies through pregnancy...and Conservative legislators in this country have been trying desperately to get the "little woman" back under control. Don't believe me? How many women were on the US Congress panels regarding birth control when Rush Limbaugh called a college student a whore for wanting access to the pill? Hmm.
Oh wait...sex education is abstinence only...so even using condoms isn't taught as a birth control option.
Now, let's remove the feminist piece of this and focus on the men. What happens when lower-income families are denied good sex education, access to birth control, and affordable/accessible health care (yes, that includes abortions)?
They have babies. Lots of babies. Why? Because human beings are wired to have sex, particularly when they're in love and in stable relationships. Oh, you thought this didn't apply to married couples? It does. The sex isn't stopping: conservatives can try all they like to stop human nature, but it's going to happen.
Women aren't the only population impacted by this bill: the men who love them, their children, their potential children and families are ALL impacted. And when a low-income family has more babies than they can afford as a family, what happens? They're trapped financially. How exactly does a bill that will close the doors to health-care facilities serving this population in particular NOT enslave that very population economically, and how exactly is that better for the children in these families?
Let me say again: this bill does not ban abortion: abortions under 20 weeks will still be legal in the state (and as you can see if you click the CDC link, 91.4% of abortions are done FAR earlier than 20 weeks). This bill is an attempt to control women's bodies, reproductive rights, and economic status by denying health care and birth control via making access so limited and expensive it's impossible to access it.
Why is this important to me, a Minnesotan far removed from Texas (or North Carolina or Wisconsin or Ohio)? Well, Mark Rubio has said he intends to introduce a nearly identical bill in the US Senate. So yeah, this is important to me. Women (and the men with them) of any social status, economic status, or race shouldn't be slaves to their reproductive cycles. Education and family planning resources have been eroded for over a decade, and now the remaining health-facilities which provide those resources could be closed.
This is absolutely a big deal, and it's important for women AND men to stand up and say clearly: WOMEN CAN CONTROL THEIR OWN LIVES, BODIES, and HEALTH CARE.
Conservative legislators in this country (mostly male, but some females as well) feel they have the right to get between a woman's medical decisions with her doctor. Why? Because their religious beliefs tell them it's wrong. Never mind that your beliefs may not be mine. Never mind that EVERY major religion in the world has some variation of judgement being left to God.
I wasn't aware so many Conservatives' glass houses are stone-proof.