State of the State

As you may have heard, parts of the the anti-choice law rammed through the Texas Legislature during special sessions this summer are already going into effect, shutting down healthcare clinics across the state and restricting access to safe reproductive healthcare for tens of thousands of women, especially historically marginalized and underserved populations in the Rio Grande Valley. The Supreme Court decided along the usual partisan lines to leave in place the the US 5th Circuit court’s overturn of the stay that had been placed on the restrictions, causing approximately one third of Texas’s clinics to close.  As expected, this is disproportionately impacting already-underserved communities who are most vulnerable to cuts in public funding.

For a broader look at the dire circumstances faced by women in Texas seeking basic healthcare including mammograms, PAP smears, abortion, contraception, and cancer screenings, check out this recent article from Salon. It’s a sobering look at the systematic dismantling of infrastructure and support for women’s health services that has occurred over the last two legislative sessions, and the rising financial and logistical barriers now faced by women- the delicate balance of choices between supporting households and their own physical well-being. The Texas Legislature has been playing a dangerous game with the lives of Texas women, and they’re paying for it. Make sure to let your representative know that we’re done with it, through letters, emails, phonecalls, and the ballot box.

Excerpts from the article:

“In order to understand the full implications of this week’s ruling, one must consider the current state of women’s health care – particularly that of low-income women – in Texas. The Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) and the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health (NLIRH) recently released a must-read report that illustrates the devastating human toll of family planning and reproductive health cuts on women living in Texas’s Rio Grande Valley.

The Valley is a marginalized region inside a state with some of the worst health disparities and the highest percentage of uninsured adults in the country. Many women in the Valley live in colonias, unincorporated communities along the U.S.-Mexico border, which often lack clean water, plumbing, electricity, and public transportation….These women – and the thousands more they represent – must decide between paying rent, giving their children food and a roof over their heads, or having a mammogram, a Pap test, or contraceptives. “It’s one or the other, but not both,” they say. They live with a constant din of anxiety and fear, not knowing what disease is or might be growing in their bodies, where they will get care in emergency situations, or what will happen to their children if they become sick (or worse).

These women are living the consequences of calculated decisions made by conservative lawmakers to dismantle the state’s health safety net. Over the last two years, they cut the state’s family planning budget by two-thirds, from $111 million to $37.9 million. They established a tiered system and forfeited $30 million in federal funds so they could exclude Planned Parenthood and other organizations affiliated with abortion providers from receiving state or federal resources.

So what happens? Women purchase unregulated contraceptives off the black market, without consulting a doctor about which form of family planning is best for their bodies. They seek care in Mexico, taking the risk that they will not make it back across the border safely. Or, like many of the women described in the report, they forgo contraception and medical care because they simply cannot afford it. …There is not a single abortion provider left in the Valley. At a minimum, women must travel three to five hours each way to access an abortion (and must make that trip multiple times thanks to ultrasound and counseling requirements). For most women, it might as well be outlawed. “


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