5.04.2011

Happy Mother's Day from the Texas Lege

Who represents poor women in Texas? Not the Texas Lege. Perhaps the most poignant quote comes from Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston: "Poor women should not be a political football when it comes to their healthcare. But this is where a majority does rule. And I believe that it's more important to have the program than not."

In a nutshell, the Medicaid program through which 120,000 Texas women receive critical cancer and disease screening (pap smears for cervical cancer, for example) and contraceptive care (to prevent unwanted pregnancies in the first place) will be scrapped unless the bill to renew the program includes a ban on participation in the funds by Planned Parenthood. Problem is, Planned Parenthood is the single largest provider of services under the program, providing screening and contraception to 40,000 responsible, low-income women across the State.

Forget that Planned Parenthood is prohibited from using the funds to provide (totally legal) abortion services. Forget that Planned Parenthood has multiple urban and rural locations that provide a full range of preventative healthcare for women that is women-run and operated. Forget that the vast majority of women who have benefited from the services of Planned Parenthood (including yours truly) benefited from services ranging from diagnosis and treatment of yeast infections to annual exams to prescription for contraceptive medications (and many thanks to my health insurance for not covering that cost).

Women's healthcare is screwed. Truly. And it keeps getting further screwed by the nutjobs who will threaten to take down broad programs of preventative care (including preventing unwanted pregnancies! Are we not on the same side on that issue? REALLY?) just to spite Planned Parenthood, for having the temerity to continue to also offer abortions - with other funds, and among a SLEW of other critical health services.

You know, my family had this assumption, when I was pregnant with my kids late in life, that if a serious chromosomal issue arose, I would have considered the option to terminate the pregnancy. We all prayed that I would not be faced with such a difficult decision, and I kept them informed of test and screening appointments and called them as soon as the results were received, explaining what they meant, what the tests measured, what they were looking for. My parents are actively pro-life. But they don't connect the dots. They don't appreciate that this very personal decision that I might have been faced with for myself and my family would have been moot.

Calling abortion opponents "pro-life" is a misnomer. I have to agree with the criticism that they are really pro-birth. If the pro-life organizations put as much into parenting classes, job training, paid parental leave, publicly supported and safe 24-hr childcare, abuse and domestic violence prevention, foster programs, and all of women's healthcare - rather than being a sole force to make abortion as difficult, humiliating, expensive and dangerous as possible at the cost of critical healthcare for women - they might get my attention.

I wonder how many of them have actually walked into a Planned Parenthood clinic, just to see all of the health information available, hear how the women who go there are treated with dignity and respect, to see the faces of their sisters and mothers and daughters who are so fortunate to have a medical resource available dedicated especially to their health.

But I look at what they are trying to do my state, and to my sisters struggling to take care of themselves, and it all just seems like misogyny. They just can't stop punishing Eve for offering Adam the apple.