Is Texas Too Red for Raising Daughters?
I write a fair amount of articles for the Houston Press that deal with having a progressive attitude when raising a daughter. Know what the comment I see the most often under those stories is...
"Wow, hard to believe this guy is from Texas."
Some mean that as a compliment, some mean it as an insult, and others are just baffled because Texas has become home of the whoppers. While Texas has been mostly republican-controlled since the 1960s, and conservative since we dragged her kicking and screaming from the hands of Santa Anna, the landscape is becoming danger-red because that conservative powerhouse has become almost entirely dominated by Tea Party and radical right-wing candidates.
It's a not a group of people who has historically had the best interest of women at heart, at least as far as giving them freedom and aid. As the father of a four-year-old girl about to enter Texas' public school system, I honestly wonder if it's time to pack up the Kid With One F and leave my ancestral home.
There's our new lieutenant governor to consider. Dan Patrick utterly trounced David Dewhurst in the recent run-off election. Despite eyes being cast on Wendy Davis and her bid to take the governorship of Texas back for the Democrats, it's Patrick that may wield the greater power, whatever the outcome of that race. It's the lieutenant governor who most guides the Texas legislature, not the governor.
The laws that Patrick, known to his detractors as Taliban Dan, likes are the ones that have me fearing watching my daughter come of age in a time when he may still be serving. There's his troubling love of the idea of abortion providers no longer operating in the state for example. In the run-off debates Patrick said...
"This is a myth that Planned Parenthood has anything to do with women's health. Why are they closing clinics if they're making money on providing women's health? They're closing clinics because they make all their money taking the lives of babies."
Patrick was referring to a law he supported that enforced new, costly, and to most opponents of the law, unnecessary, restrictions upon Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers that has reduced the number of such clinics in Texas to just six. Unable to renovate to accommodate wider hallways, and the refusal of local hospitals to advance admitting privileges, many such clinics have closed.
The reality is that Planned Parenthood does have a lot to do with women's health. Abortions make up only 3 percent of its procedures. The vast majority of services they provide, often to low-income women, are annual well-women exams, contraception, prenatal care, cancer screenings, and sexually transmitted disease screening.
In a state where nearly half of all pregnancies are unplanned (and in which many women who have become pregnant cite as the clinics closing and being unable to access birth control they previously could as a reason), it's a troubling trend, but one that Patrick and other far-right politicians with a grip on Texas politics seem comfortable with.
Even if it shuts down other clinics that don't even provide abortions. Rick Perry may have gleefully bragged about making abortion harder to get in Texas, but I've not heard much from him or his party on what they plan to do for the poor women in Texas who are watching their health care options erode.