Tuesday, September 20, 2011

I give up on Texas


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.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Letter from the Trenches: Coming to terms with the war on poverty *OR* Birthday Wishes for my Son

As some of you may recall, I had a difficult time with Festus' first birthday. We've now passed his second birthday with a much different reaction. I've been quite happy thinking about Festus getting older and becoming more independent. On our last visit he and I played for about an hour and it was wonderful. None of the soul crushing existential crises nor ennui I have feared was present. Instead he was an energetic little boy, nearly two years old, who laughed and giggled with surprising regularity.

I now look forward to the next visit and the chance to celebrate his birthday with him this month. Athena will ill during that last visit which should make this one a nice chance to catch up and see how much he's talking now.

Indeed the only sadness I contend with now doesn't have much to do with Festus, though it does reflect new light upon the choice to place him with his parents for adoption. It has been a slow dawning realization that his placement was not made only of willful choice, but also of necessity. Despite my desire to believe the opposite I now see that I did not have the resources to raise him had I chosen to do so. Even though I am setting the bar for my personal standards of financial well being I can see that Athena and I simply don't have the resources to achieve solvency. Further, that isn't just financial resources.

I have returned to work after yet another four months of seasonal leave. Already I don't want to be there. I won't get into gory details. Instead I'll say that the environment in which I work engenders distrust, waste, frustration, and disillusion. It seems I return each day to work with a little less than I had the day before. Yet I make just enough money that I can't manage to keep a savings account going. In short, I have no cushion for attempting a transition that seems desperately needed. I could attempt to make the transition anyway and hope all works out for the best, but I there are people depending on me for their health and financial stability. This is the trap of poverty and responsibility.

What I hope for Festus is that he doesn't have to deal with this sort of trap. I hope that by placing him with Prof Plum and Ms Scarlet that he will never have the deficit of resources that so many people in the USA now contend with. I wish him happiness, health, and the freedom to truly do whatever compels him in this world. And teddy bears and trucks, of course. He is, after all, only two years old!