That's all I could think as I listened to the radio on my commute to work. The story was about Texas cutting funding for women's health clinic by 66%. These clinics provide women with general health screenings, physical exams, PAP smears, and birth control. They do not, however, provide abortions. That's because there is both a state and federal mandate that facilities providing abortions shall not receive federal funds. So why is the budget for these health facilities being cut?
Because they are willing to refer women to clinics that do perform abortions. The willingness to provide information at the request of the patient is enough to be considered an enemy to the evangelical supported socially conservative movement in Texas.
Spared from the budget cuts are clinics that refuse to refer patients to abortion providers and do not provide PAP smears. On the other hand they do offer "abstinence education" at these emergency pregnancy clinics. Thankfully the existence of emergency pregnancy clinics in Texas is well assured. The proposed budget cuts are projected to lead to an additional 20,000 unplanned pregnancies next year. One of the counselors at such a clinic was quoted as being "very sad" that only "2% of these women [in unplanned pregnancies] choose adoption".
Here's where I'm screaming curses at the top of my lungs in my head. The clinics in question don't facilitate adoptions. They don't make placements, nor arrange meetings of adoptive families with first families. At no point are they directly involved in the adoption process. No wonder they're sad that only 2% of women dealing with unplanned pregnancies choose adoption. No wonder they don't mind that there are enough children born in Texas to unprepared parents to fill 175 kindergarten classrooms. Thank goodness there will be another 20,000 children born into duress each year.
I'm not particulary concerned with where anyone stands on the issue of abortion. There are good arguments to be found on all sides as well as terrible and poorly thought out arguments. The issue at hand here is access to healthcare and birth control. The Texas legislature is trying to make this sound like they're preventing federal (tax) dollars from being used to fund abortions. There's a simple problem with that argument: tax dollars aren't being used for that purpose now! Instead what's happening is the people who are most vulnerable are being hung out to dry. Young women are being denied the basic right to plan when they are prepared to parent. But it gets worse.
The women who are being denied this right are those who have had to rely on assistance to have that right. In short, the people who can least afford an unplanned pregnancy will be those most likely to encounter one. Why? Socially conservative "abstinence only" dogma.
What about the money? Won't this save the state a lot of money by not paying for all those health care tests and medication? Unfortunately no, it won't. Instead the cost will be seen in emergency rooms where treatment averages ten times what preventative care does. Remember the clinics losing funding don't only provide reproductive health care. They also provide diabetes screenings, PAP smears, cholesterol levels, STD checks, and physical exams. So instead of saving money by eliminating access to these tests Texas is actually digging a bigger financial hole for itself in the future when the people who rely upon these clinics become seriously ill and unable to pay hospital bills.
In addition to all of this is one question left ringing in my mind: who would ever wish for another person to experience the pain and loss of an adoption? How can someone justify forcing that decision on people with so few resources they can't afford birth control? If $30 a month for birth control, or $15 a month for condoms is more than they can afford how the hell can anyone think parenting is a viable choice for those women?
Shame on you, Rick Perry. This isn't the real face of social conservatism. This is fucking evil.