Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Texas Lege Attempts Back-Door Abortion Ban

Planned Parenthood is spreading the word. This reached me by email:
Texas politicians have introduced a “Back Door Abortion Ban” (Senate Bill 537), a bill that would virtually ban abortion statewide. This type of bill, termed TRAP (“targeted regulation of abortion providers”), places medically unnecessary and onerous requirements on health care centers, while doing nothing to improve the health or safety of women. TRAP is a back door attempt to deny women access to a safe and legal medical procedure.

SB 537 would require all health centers that provide safe and legal abortions to become licensed Ambulatory Surgery Centers (ASCs ). Among the 117 pages of regulations required of Ambulatory Surgery Centers in Texas are surgical operating rooms of at least 240 square feet, specific requirements for the flooring and outfitting of janitors closets, and ventilations systems required for a sterile operating room, among many other onerous requirements that are excessive for procedures that, like abortion, can be safely performed in a health center setting.

This “Back Door Abortion Ban” could mean the closure of multiple health centers outside of the few major cities and could have a devastating impact on women living in most areas of Texas.

Already, an estimated 200,000 Texas women are going without basic, preventive health care this year because of the state’s ongoing political attacks on women’s health care. If lawmakers care about women’s health, they should focus on restoring Texas women’s access to lifesaving breast and cervical cancer screenings, birth control, and HIV tests by reinstating the Medicaid Women’s Health Program and restoring funding for the state’s family planning program.

Included was an invitation to "voice [my] outrage." Here is my letter to the Lege in reply:
Subject: I am outraged

Dear [legislator]:

Abortion is a safe and legal medical procedure. The safety is assured by physicians and nurses in the clinics you so regularly attack. The legality? the Supreme Court established that decades ago: a woman in America has a constitutionally protected right to decide whether to bear a child or not, a right to seek an abortion without unreasonable obstruction, a right to quality medical care in the performance of that abortion. Those things are NOT for you to decide: only the woman herself can decide.

If a woman disapproves of abortion on moral grounds, then she should not have an abortion... it's that simple. But each woman must decide for herself. If a man disapproves of abortion on moral grounds... well, don't go there. It isn't a man's right to make that decision for a woman or for all women. Man, what if you had a tumor growing inside you and your wife told you it is immoral for you to have it removed even if it kills you? Is that anyone's decision other than your own? Of course it's not. Abortion is similar: the person it affects most is the woman who would bear a child (or die in the attempt) without it. It is her call, and ONLY her call.

Irrational obstacles to a legally protected, routine medical procedure are unacceptable. Please cease your attempts to invade a woman's privacy and deny her what is hers by right. If you continue, you may count on my full-throated opposition at every turn. If you legislate in ways that restrict a woman's constitutionally protected right to decide for herself whether to remain pregnant, my opposition may extend to legal action and to civil disobedience. This has gone too far: women are human beings; women have human rights... and those rights WILL be protected.

Stephen Bates

(Mumble, mutter, curse...) Buncha goddam self-righteous sons-of-mothers... (More seriously...) Women's rights issues are intrinsically human rights issues. If shit-for-brains legislators can't see that, they have no right to hold their office and should be promptly impeached.


  1. But that's the problem Steve - "throw da bums out" is a an empty threat, and they know it. By the time you can get rid of them they've already done the damage they intended to do. While I'd like to think we could stop them from getting elected in the first place, I'm slapped back to reality by Ted Cruz. He was already outed as full blown Section 8 material long before election day, and he still won.

    1. Constance, you may be right about getting rid of the nuts in the Lege, but I am convinced that legal action and civil disobedience are NOT empty threats. The law is very much on our side at the moment (though I wouldn't bet a dime on its being so if Obama appoints one more Supreme Court Justice), and blockading office doors works as well for pro-choicers as for anti-abortion zealots. I'm too old for that sort of stuff, but younger people have more to lose if such a law is put in place, and I'd think a few old-fashioned sit-ins in offices in the Texas Capital might just draw some attention. Or maybe a stink bomb through an Operation Rescue window, in repayment for the stink bomb lobbed into Planned Parenthood in Houston back when I did contract work 25+ years ago. "We're better than that," you say? Maybe we need a change in tactics...

    2. I agree we need a change in tactics. "He brings a knife, you bring a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue." Progressives or democrats or whatever-the-hell you want to label them have been playing by the Marquis of Queensbury rules for decades and we are losing every time.

      But civil disobedience is no longer an effective strategy. Look at Occupy, look at the Keystone XL. Hell, next weekend is the 10th anniversary of the night I spent in jail for nonviolently protesting the attack on Iraq. Civil disobedience is easily crushed and ignored. Perhaps it's time for some very uncivil disobedience. Although the violent reactionaries in power are revealing themselves as so unhinged, Bog only knows what the result would be.

    3. Constance, remember Gandhi: "First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win." You don't win instantly, perhaps not even in your lifetime. Civil disobedience, in addition to forcing your opponents to cede the moral high ground, also forces them to deal with you again and again... and again and again... and yet again, each time perhaps in a different and slightly more annoying way. Even the largest jail fills up. Enough of the public is repulsed by flash-bang grenades, tasers and other "nonlethal" weapons that attention starts to focus on the government and their actions, not the protesters and theirs.

      I believe America as currently constituted is destined for the scrap-heap: a large enough portion of her people have, as you note, reached the don't-care state, and the methods Gandhi used are no longer highlighted by our sorry press and media, damn them to oblivion. But a to,e wo;; come... within a century... when the basics of civilization will go to ground, perhaps in the wake of environmental disaster, and the wealthy and powerful will find that they are neither rich nor mighty in the face of global climate change, atrocious atmospheric and water pollution, etc. Our descendants will then have an opportunity, and they (we'll be long since dead) will find out what their principles are made of.

      I've never spent a night in jail, though I once performed music in a 19th-century jail made into a 20th-century museum. No protest there, I'm afraid; we got paid to do it.

    4. Oops. Please read "But a time will come..."

      (If I could type, I'd be dangerous!)

  2. What we can do is demand that any woman forced to carry a pregnancy to term against her will can sue the state for child support for 18 years. And that it should come out of the salaries of those politicians who voted for this law. Think THAT would get their attention.

    1. ellroon, what we can do... specifically, what YOU and other women can do... is impose a "Lysistrata" condition on men who are determined to lord it over their ladies. Of course, noting the behavior of right-wingnut men, that might not work as well as one would hope: they seem to have no aversion to prostitutes, children, etc. as sexual objects. Confiscating their paychecks is probably as good an idea as any, but I doubt it would succeed.

      (Jeebus. Could the Firefox US spell-checker get any worse? Did the dolt who wrote it even learn his English in America? It wants to coerce me to use "tumour" and "pay-check" or "pay cheque" ...)



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