Thursday, April 07, 2011

Meanwhile*, in Texas

The terms "abortion" and "reproductive health care" are now regarded as synonyms. Or rather, it is more important to make abortions difficult than to allow poorer women mammograms or access to contraception:
Is "family planning" a euphemism for abortion? Many House Republicans seem to think so. In amendment after amendment during last weekend’s budget battle, they raided the Department of State Health Services' family planning money — which funds reproductive health services, but not abortions, for Texas’ poorest women — to divert money to other budget-whacked services, from autism to children’s mental health.
Some took a nuanced approach, saying they were simply prioritizing other programs — with the added benefit of sending far fewer state dollars to Planned Parenthood. Others were blatant, like Rep. Bill Zedler, R-Arlington, who said his amendment would defund “the abortion industry.”
This is by far the most revealing quote in the article:
Rep. John Zerwas, R-Simonton and the chairman of the appropriations subcommittee that handles health funding, said before the House debated the budget that the family planning program was funded at $99 million for the next biennium, already a roughly 20 percent cut from the current biennium. Over the course of several amendments, that funding was cut another 60 percent, leaving $38 million in the program.
For Zerwas, an anesthesiologist and former hospital administrator, the amendments presented an awkward balance. He’s fiscally conservative and supports preventative medicine. He knows how much unplanned pregnancies cost Medicaid. But at the end of the day, he’s also staunchly anti-abortion.
“There are important women’s health services that are provided here, many of which are very cost effective,” Zerwas said. “But when it comes down to it, these votes were about political philosophy, and I voted in favor of moving the money.”
What Zerwas means that it is more important for him to force women to give birth than to help them prevent unwanted pregnancies. Or to diagnose cancer early. This tells all I need to know about what's inside this man's mind.
*My "meanwhile" series is about bad things happening to women all around the world. You can search for that word if you need to get rapidly depressed.