Legislatures shouldn't de-fund women's health organizations
Published: Monday, September 16, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, September 17, 2013 02:09
Let’s make one thing clear: women's health is not code for abortion. Women have more parts on their body than just naughty bits and more on their mind than pregnancy or lack thereof. Legislators have recently forgotten this and are making decisions that are severely impacting women's health as a whole.
Why have women’s health concerns become synonymous with attempting to terminate pregnancies? When did it become okay, in the fight to prevent abortions, to start targeting which doctor a woman chooses? This is only the latest attempt to thwart a woman’s right to control her body, and it has significant consequences.
The problem: the Texas Legislature specifically targeting clinics such as Planned Parenthood in their attempt to de-fund abortions. The Legislature attempted to do this by making cuts to the family planning budget and no longer allowing Planned Parenthood to be covered under the Texas Medicaid Women’s Health Program, according to the Huffington Post. The consequence: women covered under income-based medical coverage plans have been dramatically limited in their choice of doctor.
Programs such as the Texas Women's Health Program are specifically designed to allow low-income women and families to gain access to yearly well-woman examinations, which includes pap smears and screenings for breast and cervical cancer, treatment for sexually transmitted diseases, and birth control, according to texaswomenshealth.org.
Women’s ability to choose their own doctor is a right that should not be taken away. Furthermore, it should not be a way for outside forces to circumvent the right a woman has to have control over her own body as decided by the United States Supreme Court. This is an injustice being committed against every Texas woman by a thinly veiled attempt to punish organizations such as Planned Parenthood that perform abortions even though Texas law already prohibits taxpayer money from being used to fund abortions. And abortion is only three percent of the services they provide.
These de-fundings have also had local repercussions. On July 18, Planned Parenthood announced the closure of three clinics in Bryan, Lufkin and Huntsville, according to the Houston Chronicle. The local Huntsville Planned Parenthood closed Aug. 1. The Bryan location was the only clinic that provided abortions. This now means that there is only one doctor within fifteen miles of the Huntsville area where women covered under the Texas Women’s Health Program can go to receive treatment.
Students on campus have access to the Student Health Center, but what will happen after graduation or when you are too old to stay on your parent’s health plan? Though these attempts are meant to target women seeking abortions, it will only serve to disproportionately affect the ability of lower-income women to have access to necessary gynecological care.
This blunder, along with the recently passed House Bill 2, which could close all but five abortion clinics in the state of Texas, are very clear attacks on women's rights. To deny so would be erroneous. The Texas Legislature is imposing social restrictions that specifically target women at the expense of health care concerns for Texas woman that they’re supposedly upholding.
The fundamental assertion being made is that women do not fundamentally have equal protection under the law. These actions by the Texas Legislature are blatantly partisan, deciding in favor of limiting the rights of Texas women. These repeated decisions and abrasive actions by lawmakers are giving credence to the notion that a woman’s health decisions can be taken away from her and only serve to create doubt in the minds of women that their lawmakers are truly considering what is in the best interest of Texans.