Legally Bombing Abortion Clinics, Or How To Get Away With Murdering Planned Parenthood In Texas
No one likes abortion clinics, not even the doctors and nurses who used to work at them in Texas. Although abortions were only a tiny 3% fraction of the services performed at Planned Parenthood, previously the largest provider in the state, the “baby killer” label stuck. And when the legislature struck, they also eliminated the other 97% of vital services the organization performs in a breathlessly brazen daylight attack that’s bound to have national ramifications in the war against women’s reproductive rights, family planning and healthcare services for the poor.
But what about Roe v. Wade, you might ask? Just don’t – This is Texas we’re talking about, not New York City. Established law be damned. The Supreme Court in their fancy black robes can issue all the edicts they like, but Texas doesn’t cotton (see translation: take kindly) to being told what to do by foreigners. And as the most “lawsuit happy” state in the union, especially when it comes to the federal government meddling in its affairs, the Lone Star State has learned it’s easier to ask forgiveness than permission when committing high crimes and misdemeanors.
In an act of defiant pride, Governor Greg Abbott signed a sweeping and legally dubious order into law which cut off most funding, placed impossible restrictions on providers and caused the closure of most of Planned Parenthood’s clinics across the state, whether they provided abortions or not. Of course the legislature was out of session at the time, so there was no one to object, and he knew the law would be challenged, tested and ultimately overturned even if it had to go all the way to the Supreme Court.
That was the “original intent” as they say in Texas. Abbott, the framer-in-chief of this legislative assault against Planned Parenthood knew full well by the time the courts could inject an ounce of life-saving human decency into the proceedings, the damage would already be done. It worked beautifully because the Governor can always count on the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals to rubber stamp his insanity. Hence, most of the state’s abortion clinics were already shuttered and out of business before the Supreme Court intervened earlier this summer in a strong rebuke to the Governor and his extra-legal leg work in the case, Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt.
Women’s rights advocates cheered across the nation when the High Court struck down the most burdensome restrictions , requiring clinics to set up expensive in-patient hospital facilities for a common out-patient procedure. Abortion doctors were, once again, like other day-facility surgeons, suddenly no longer required to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. Everyone was elated at the news of a sweeping victory.
The only problem…the Texas Governor had already cleaned up the scourge of abortion clinics by pulling funding and putting them out of business. Leases had long since been lost, doctors and nurses had moved on to other jobs, all but a handful of facilities that were able to meet the original restrictions remained closed. And the prognosis of reopening them remains bleak, costly and burdensome at best.
Planned Parenthood was never a baby-killing, money-making operation in the first place. Everyone knew that, but chose to ignore the mammograms, men’s health, pap smears, birth control and disease prevention programs which consumed the lion’s share of the international organization’s budget. But what’s saving countless lives, preventing disease, unwanted births and poverty, when you can score political points and claim electoral victory by closing a few dozen abortion clinics?
Nevermind those pesky statistics about being one of the most academically and sexually under-educated states in the union. Texas proudly offers real, unadulterated choices for families, such as abstinence-only programs, promise rings in place of condoms and the always popular option of home religious-based schooling for those who’d rather attend the father-daughter purity dance than prom! These efforts work so well, teen pregnancy is almost a rite of passage. In fact, Texas high schools are so progressive today, many of them now offer on-campus childcare and work/study programs where you can earn a diploma and learn to parent at the same time. But what the heck, who needs college or high-tech trainees when you can produce an army of daycare workers with expert knowledge in the aftermath of childbirth?
Of course, should this amazing array of social services fail to meet your individual or family planning needs, feel free to get on the waiting list for a heavenly host of other options by dialing 2-1-1. Churches, adoption services, food pantries, animal control… everyone is standing by ready to help. Just ask the 25,000 toddlers currently shopping for “affordable housing” in Texas how well they’re being served by the social safety net. Unless you’re one of the few hundred kids sleeping on a lumpy, overcrowded sofa in a Child Protective Services office, this is indeed the land of milk and honey. So don’t hesitate if your period is late. Give the fiercely independent nanny state a call. They’ll waltz you right through that unwanted pregnancy, because everything’s bigger in Texas, including their loving hearts for little ones.
And don’t think simply because you have the good fortune to live in another, slightly more lucid state… say North Reality or New Humanity, this can’t happen to you. Across the country, all Republican eyes are on Texas, and most assuredly, if the courts and gerrymandered voting booths can’t stop them from thumbing their nose at the rule of law, what’s to keep your state from adopting these same tactics? If pandering to the base of religious conservatives will keep them in office, “legally bombing” abortion clinics and destroying women’s health in the heartland is just good politics.
Even considering this year’s Supreme Court’s injunction against Texas, the number of maternal, birth-related deaths have “inexplicably doubled” since Abbott’s executive order was put in place. Likewise, the rates of unplanned/unwanted childbirths have risen sharply while the state is doing everything possible to suppress these alarming statistics.
One brave researcher at the University of Texas, Dr. Daniel Grossman, has been tracking the effects of these closures and draconian funding cuts to women’s health. After releasing a damning report this summer, Gov. Abbott demanded he be fired. When the school ignored the threat, the governor instead forced the retirement of the state’s Health and Human Services Director who’d supplied some of the data used in the report.
Remember Roe vs. Wade? Yeah, that Wade. Henry Wade was the District Attorney in Dallas at the time of the historic ruling which turned abortion clinics into anti-pregnancy playgrounds and havens for harlots in his twisted view. Dallas was, and still is, the belt-buckle of the Bible Belt. Old Henry may be dead today, but his unwavering faith against a woman’s right to choose lives on proudly in the Lone Star State.
Now, Governor Abbott, the former Attorney General, is right back at it again, regardless of what the Supreme Court told him to do. In outright defiance to the judicial injunction, he cut funding this summer to the few remaining abortion clinics he hadn’t been able to close before his hand was slapped. Instead, he steered $1.6 million, the state’s second largest grant for “women’s health” to the Heidi Group, a non-profit headed by a well-known anti-abortion activist. The clinic they operate in Houston neither provides abortions nor dispenses contraceptives. After being lambasted by the media and women’s advocacy groups, the clinic issued a statement saying they would “contract” with private doctors to write prescriptions for contraceptives. Of course that would require scheduling a separate office visit at additional expense to struggling women and cash strapped families.
The facts speak for themselves. Women are dying. Children are suffering. Families are being forced to endure unreasonable, unmanageable burdens. If the judiciary and the federal government don’t do something to stem this bloody red Republican tide, it will undoubtedly become a national epidemic of death, disease and poverty. Texas may never go more than a day without being a national embarrassment, but no one will be laughing in the rest of the country when their own wives, mothers and children start starving and dying at the hands of deranged men pretending to play God for purely political purposes.