I’m a gay white man, and, as such, the current women’s health bills in the Texas legislature literally could not affect me less.
I will never have to make the unimaginably difficult choice to have an abortion. My partner will never have to make that choice either. My mother is way past menopause so not even she will have to change any aspect of her life if these bills are passed. There is literally no scenario in which me or my immediate family members will be affected by HB2 or SB9.
So why have I spent more than 30 hours in the past week protesting at the state capitol that these sexist and scientifically inaccurate bills be voted down? Because I’m not just fighting for women’s rights: I am fighting for human rights.
The facts are these: HB2 and SB9 will shut down all Planned Parenthood clinics that are not up to the standard of ambulatory care centers (aka outpatient surgery clinics), would ban all abortions after 20 weeks, and would require that doctors at the clinics have hospital admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles.
Sounds great, right?
Higher standards of care sound excellent on paper, but the bill would in fact shut down 37 of the 42 or 88 percent of Planned Parenthood clinics in Texas. The five remaining would be only in the major metropolitan areas of Houston, Dallas, San Antonio and Austin.
This means the near 700,000 citizens of El Paso would need to travel more than 600 miles or more than eight hours to Dallas for access to a safe and legal abortion. The half million citizens of the Panhandle would have to drive nearly 400 miles or six hours in order to take advantage of a medical procedure guaranteed to them in the Constitution. The 1.3 million people of the Rio Grande Valley would have a 300 mile or four hour journey for access to quality healthcare.
In short, the 13.3 million women of Texas would now be funneled into 5 clinics driving up waiting lines and prices while sacrificing accessibility.
All of this of course in the name of women’s health.
Texas Republicans claim that women will be safer and better informed after this legislation passes. However, the American Medical Association, the Texas Medical Association, the Texas Hospital Association, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the Food and Drug Administration and the Center for Disease Control have all released statements and data professing the contrary. These bills jeopardize women’s health in all its forms.
The rationale that raising medical standards to unreachable levels in order to improve health makes about as much sense as shutting down all higher education except for Ivy League Universities while claiming it makes the U.S. better educated.
So why does this bother me so much? The government has no input on my reproductive rights as a man. My vasectomy clinics are in no danger of shutting down. No one seems to be concerned that every time I masturbate, I destroy more potential lives that all of the abortions in the 40 years since Roe v. Wade combined.
I’m concerned because I may be next.
Please don’t misunderstand. I’m not a conspiracy theorist, I don’t think that elected officials are out to get me and the thought of “big government” (whatever that really means) doesn’t really fill me with terror.
It’s the fact that my constitutional rights can slowly but surely be diminished by elected officials for no reason other than misinformation that scares me the most. And if that doesn’t concern you, I’m concerned.