This partisan effort builds on a concerted action by state leaders to roll back access to women’s and family health care. In 2011, their budget cuts threw approximately 150,000 women out of a health safety net that, as in my experience, served as their only source of regular, reliable care. Since then, state leaders have bypassed a nine-to-one federal match in funding for the women’s health-care program and saddled state taxpayers with approximately $30 million per year in unnecessary expense, as well as millions of additional dollars spent through Medicaid on unplanned births. Worse, a vendetta against Planned Parenthood by Gov. Perry and Lt. Gov. Dewhurst has gutted nearly half of the state’s women’s health-care delivery system. As a consequence, tens of thousands of Texas women may very well have no providers of care despite additional state funding.
There has been a great deal of attention given to the portion of the bill that would ban abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy, which was added by partisans primarily as a means for whipping up their political base. But this cynical and dishonest political tactic puts women’s lives at risk. Less than 1 percent of all abortions in Texas occur at the 20th week or later. In nearly all of these cases, a family in tragic circumstances has had to make the difficult and private decision to let go of a much-wanted pregnancy because of a major medical concern. What’s more, state leaders don’t mention that they opposed and defeated an amendment to allow an exception to the 20-week ban when a woman has been raped or is the victim of incest. This exception is no small matter. Each year, about 25,000 American women — 30 percent of them minors — become pregnant through rape or incest.