by Mary Tuma
This Halloween, no need to dress up if you're a woman living in Texas. With unprecedented, sweeping abortion restrictions, massive funding cuts to family planning and the dismantling of the women's healthcare network, 'Texas woman' is probably one of the scariest costumes you could put on. Here's a few reasons why:
1. Good Luck Trying To Obtain Safe Abortion Access- Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard the news about the partial (emphasis on partial) victory against part of Texas’ anti-abortion law that could prevent abortion access for one in three women and completely eliminate access to the procedure in places like Fort Worth, Lubbock, Waco and McAllen. However, the ruling is in legal limbo as the state swiftly appealed the federal decision and handed it over to a conservative appellate court. Moreover, the ruling stops short of striking down another potentially harmful and dangerous provision that requires women to follow outdated and onerous abortion medication restrictions.
2. Life-Saving Health Care Not For All- In an ideological move, conservative Texas officials expelled Planned Parenthood from the Medicaid-based Women’s Health Program last year, denying life-saving, preventative health care, like cancer screenings, to roughly 50,000 women who depended on the dominant reproductive health program provider as their first and trusted choice. They did this to prevent any taxpayer dollars from reaching an abortion provider even though long-time state and federal law already prohibit that.
3. Want to Vote? Not So Fast. - Thanks to Texas’ Voter ID law, some women may have to face obstacles at the polls. If the name appearing on your photo ID (like a drivers license) doesn’t exactly match your official voter registration card, you’ll have to show proof that you’re, in fact, you. This is problematic for married (or once-married) women who wish to keep their maiden names on some forms of ID, like Sen. Wendy Davis, who was forced to sign an affidavit before voting. After casting a ballot without issue for nearly 50 years, the law almost prevented a Texas judge from voting at the polls last week.
4. For Your Viewing (Dis)Pleasure- In 2011, the Republican-controlled Texas Legislature mandated women undergoing an abortion must view an image of the fetus and hear the fetal heartbeat 24 hours before an abortion. While volleying between the courts in a legal challenge brought forth by reproductive health advocates, the law ultimately took effect in 2012. Bill authors argue the rule is meant to fully “inform” women whereas critics say the measure adds the burden of cost as women must factor in travel time and time off work for the ultrasounds, not to mention it’s use as a mechanism to shame and guilt women.
5. Abortion After 20 Weeks? We Don’t Think So, Says Texas GOP- Since the ongoing suit against Texas’ anti-abortion law only challenged two provisions of the four-part law, women seeking an abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy (with the exception of serious health risks and fetal abnormalities) are now barred from the procedure, effective this week. The ban marks the first section of the omnibus bill to be enforced. Supporters of the bill argued the fetus can feel pain at this point, a claim resting on dubious and disputed science.