Everyone remembers the kick-ass filibuster by Sen. Wendy Davis which prevented the vote on SB-5, a Texas bill which would prevent abortions after 20 weeks as well as imposing costly requirements on abortion clinics and providers; essentially, this bill intensely reduces access to abortions on many levels.
Even though Davis was able to postpone the vote, the Texas House Affairs committee managed to bring it to the table again after Gov. Rick Perry called a special session to finally vote on it. Over 1,000 people signed up to testify to the committee, but only about 100 were able to voice their opinion-as long as they weren’t Democrat officials. The committee chairman, Byron Cook stopped hearing testimony after 8 hours and refused to let any Democrats on the panel offer amendments to the bill. The bill was passed 8-3 by the committee and is expected to pass the full House and Senate, which are both controlled by Republicans.
So what specifically does this bill do to infringe upon the rights of women and their personal decisions? Well, besides limiting abortions to 20 weeks or less, it requires that all abortion procedures have to be performed at surgical centers. Only 6 Texas clinics fit these requirements and all are located in urban areas, according to the Texas Tribune, which would mean that all other centers that previously provided abortions would be forced to shut down, or stop performing the procedure.
Many medical groups, such as The Texas Medical Association, the Texas Hospital Associations and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology all oppose this bill, which would force many Texas women to drive hundreds of miles to have an abortion. The problem with restricting access to abortion is that is doesn’t prevent women from getting abortions-it just prevents women from having safer access to the procedures. History has shown us that abortions will happen, legal or illegal, in a clinic by a doctor or at home using dangerous methods. Limiting access to abortion clinics severely hurt women of lower socio-economic standing, who are less likely to be able to travel hundreds of miles on top of paying for the procedure, since the only clinics that would be able to remain open are located in cities. Additionally, the majority of the clinics that would be forced to close due to this bill also provide contraception, STD testing, and cancer screenings. This is especially bad because Texas has one of the nation’s highest teen birth rates and percentages of women living in poverty, which is not a great combination to state the obvious.
Though this bill doesn’t prevent women from getting abortions, it is likely to push them towards unsafe options. Unfortunately, Gov. Rick Perry has promised that this bill will pass within 10 days. On Fox News, Perry stated: “We're going to pass some restrictions on abortion in Texas so that Texas is a place where we defend life. That's the powerful message here, that's what we're focused on".
Because the life of a fetus is more important than the life of women, apparently.
Perry was also given a lot of attention after he made comments in regards to Wendy Davis and the fact that she had been a teen mother. Perry expressed his feelings that it was “unfortunate” that she "hasn't learned from her own example that every life must be given a chance to reach its full potential and that every life matters” and continues to defend these comments. Sadly (understatement of the day), this bill is expected to pass, and if Perry has any say in the matter, it will be very soon.
When will people start to realize that politicians should stop regulating women’s bodies? And why do men get to decide what women can and can’t do with their bodies? Don't they realize that not all women can afford to have children in this economy due to the exceedingly high cost of pregnancy and birth? This bill and Perry’s actions continue to marginalize and endanger women and could put more lives at risk. I just hope people realize that by trying to save a fetus on the basis of a moral or religious standpoint, they are actually putting the lives of girls and women at higher risk, and thus not protecting every life.