The headline immediately caught my eye. I lived in Texas for 15 years. I gave birth to two daughters there. Texas is now ranked as having the highest maternal mortality rate in the developed world. (http://readersupportednews.org/news-section2/318-66/38691-texas-has-highest-maternal-mortality-rate-in-developed-world-study-finds) Maternal mortality rates have almost doubled within a two year period.( http://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/277-75/38727-after-texas-slashed-its-family-planning-budget-maternal-deaths-almost-doubled) I was lucky I had my babies before 2011.
While I lived in the Lone Star State, I worked for a time at the Department of Human Services, a.k.a. “the Welfare Department.” One slogan caseworkers repeated, whenever we considered how stingy our state was in the amount of aid it gave its citizens, was, “At least we’re not Mississippi.” Until now, it seems.
During my time living in small town West Texas, we were fortunate to have a Planned Parenthood Clinic. I received my women’s health care there. “But wait!” I hear some protest. “You were working. Your husband was working, too. You owned a home. You lived a ‘middle class existence.’ Right?”
It’s hard for some to imagine why I would go to a Planned Parenthood and not to a doctor in private practice. The answer is simple: in West Texas, there weren’t–and apparently still aren’t–that many affordable options, even with health insurance. (Our health insurance went from “okay” to “virtually non-existent” during Bill Clinton’s tenure when we lived in Texas.) Women in West Texas have to drive (there’s no public transport) anywhere from 50 to 110+ miles one way to the nearest large city to receive routine women’s health care. Contemplate how difficult it is for moms with young children, impossible working hours, no access to a reliable car, and/or no extra cash to spend on trips to see an ob/gyn for pre-natal visits or annual health checks.
Planned Parenthood was a lifesaver for the women of our community. If we hadn’t been able to have a Pap smear regularly at our local clinic, would life-threatening problems have been caught in time for successful treatment? One shudders to think. The next time you hear anyone say it’s a good thing to defund women’s clinics, please consider the women and children this ill-formed person is condemning to a possible early death because there’s no other affordable, accessible health care in their communities.
So, why would any sane politician try to close down Planned Parenthood clinics? Many opponents paint all women’s clinics as “abortion mills” (because they provide birth control), but nothing could be further from the truth. Women who visited our Planned Parenthood wanted their babies and wanted to live to see them grow up. How do I know? Easy–I saw these women at the clinic before, during, and after their pregnancies.
Texas is Southern Baptist Country with a smattering of other “pro-life” Protestant denominations, followed by Roman Catholics. It’s why so-called “pro-life” politicians do well there. It’s safe to say the majority of Texas women aren’t using their local women’s clinic to terminate pregnancies–they’re using their clinic to make sure their pregnancies are healthy and successful.
But the latest statistics paint a very different and disturbing picture. It seems many ironically-labeled “pro-life” Texas politicians are in reality “pro-death.” These “pro-lifers” seem okay with women dying of preventable pre-/post-natal complications or other women’s health issues, such as breast, cervical and ovarian cancer.
Why would any compassionate person running for office risk women dying?
Could it be “pro-lifers” see poor and middle-class women voters as a “threat” to winning their next election? Perhaps they fear these women’s children will grow up and not support candidates who allowed their mothers/wives/girlfriends to die from complications of childbirth or cancer because these “pro-life” candidates thought taxpayer money could be spent on “better” things–such as a border wall or tax breaks for the super-wealthy–rather than on universal health care? If these “trouble-making” women die young and their children are never born … this “threat” against “pro-lifers” has been contained, right?
Unfortunately, the dead can’t vote–unless you count those who mysteriously voted in recent Democratic Party primaries. So, while you’re still breathing, do your homework and vote against “pro-death” candidates. You and your children deserve a future all can believe in–and thrive in.
Bio: Cindy A. Matthews is a freelance writer, novelist and editor of Our Revolution Continues–The Bernie Blog: http://bernie2016.blogspot.com
Photo Credit: Rena Schild / Shutterstock.com