Today, the Texas legislature will begin a 30-day Special Session called by our Governor Greg Abbott. On the agenda are 20 legislative items, most of which take dead aim at the freedom and liberties of everyday Texans. Three of those proposalsseek to levy even further attacks on women’s access to reproductive healthcare.
Many people around the country are aware of the battle that was waged in Texasaround abortion in 2013 — a battle that went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, resulting in a victory for women’s access to abortion and a loss to the ardently anti-abortion legislators of Texas. But what many don’t know is that two years earlier, in 2011, the Republican-controlled Texas legislature voted to cut funding for family planning, well women care, cancer screenings and care for sexually transmitted infections by 66 percent. That action resulted in the closing of 82 clinics — only aboutone-third of which were affiliated with Planned Parenthood — and left the women they served with little or no alternatives.
From 2010 to 2014, Texas’s maternal mortality rate doubled, according to a study published in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology. Those statistics make us the ignoble leader in maternal death rates not just in the U.S., but also in the entire developed world. And yet all the Governor has managed in response is to only add a single item to the special legislative session that would extend the term of a task force assigned with figuring out why these deaths are occurring. Meanwhile, that task force has already made an imperative recommendation to extend the Medicaid coverage currently offered to new mothers from 60 days post-delivery to one year post-delivery — but that recommendation has been roundly ignored by the legislature.