Mamas on Bedrest:If you have no money & no insurance, very soon you may have no access to health care in Texas.

May 10th, 2011

I am absolutely aghast at current legislation pending in Texas. The very successful Women’s Health Program, a program that provides Medicaid sponsored health services to thousands of low income women in Texas, which has saved the state $40 million in 2008 alone, is in danger of being dismantled due to political antics.

On May 3, 2011, the Texas Senate Health and Human Services Committee approved a new version of a bill that includes a provision stating that if a health care provider is found to be an “abortion affiliate” they can lose their funding. If that provider goes to court to challenge their status as an affiliate and wins, according to this bill, the entire Women’s Health Program is to be dismantled. Yes, you read correctly. If a health care provider challenges their “abortion affiliate” status in a Texas court and wins, then the “Great State of Texas” will cease to provide health care to ALL low income women by dismantling the entire Women’s Health Progam. They will not only not fund the particular provider in question-but they will deny funding to any and all Medicare providers of women’s health services  and will deny health care to thousands of low income women.

This is the most disgusting piece of political wrangling that I have seen to date, and it’s all in an attempts to once again rob women of safe, affordable health care if that care is in any way “affiliated” with (the perfectly legal procedure) abortion. The additional piece of legislation is the brain child of Senator Robert Deuell, R-Greenville. Deuell is a staunch conservative and this addition to the revised bill is an attempt to derail funding to Planned Parenthood because they are a provider of abortion services. Never mind that Planned Parenthood provides thousands of women with general well woman care including routine pap smears, mammograms, contraception and Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) screenings and care. Never mind that federal funds don’t support abortions, which in the state of Texas make up less than 5% of Planned Parenthood’s services. If a health care provider challenges the state of Texas and wins, then low income women lose health care.

What Deuell and his colleagues are trying to do is to bully providers into not taking their cases to court.  Providers who want to challenge the bill (law), who want to challenge their status as an abortion “affiliate”, will be faced with the untenable decision to protect their rights or to risk being the reason that thousands of women lose health care.

Deuell and his conservative associates are fully prepared to end affordable and accessible well woman care for all low income women (and by the way this number is growing as the number of uninsured women grows!) just to ensure that a very small percentage of women who choose to have a legal procedure that they don’t approve of, cannot do so. Again let me reiterate: They are willing to punish all low income women in order to prohibit Planned Parenthood and other providers of abortion services the ability to provide a service that accounts for less than 5% of all the services that they offer.

It all comes down to the fact that Texas conservatives are trying to end a woman’s right to a safe, legal abortion. In the process, they are willing to snatch health care from any women who gets federally funded health care.  This will do nothing but increase the number of unintended pregnancies (as women will no longer have access to contraceptive counseling and contraceptives) , cause a rise in STI’s as women will not have access to screening and treatment and increase the number of complications and potential deaths as women desperately seek to end unwanted pregnancies.

In a state known for it’s high maternal morbidity and mortality, is this the route we really want to tread?

A Life and Death Decision

June 2nd, 2009

I was so saddened by the murder of Dr. George Tiller on Sunday morning as he ushered for fellow parishers at his church. I don’t know why crazy acts of violence like this so tip me off balance, it’s not like this is the first such incident, but they just seem so cruel and senseless to me. Kill someone because they kill someone. Is the eye for an eye mentality really the best form of judgment and best means to civil obedience?

I have a rather interesting perspective on abortion. First, it’s not for me. In a perfect society it wouldn’t even be necessary. Yet because we live in an imperfect society, I believe it’s necessary that we have legal, safe abortions available and I hope that they will continue to be available.

Secondly, while I was rotating though OB/GYN as a physician assistant student I assisted an attending physician with a D&C, dilation and curettage. The patient had been pregnant and the fetus had died in utero at 16 weeks. As the attending MD evacuated the contents of his patient’s uterus, my job was to filter the fluid and reassemble the fetus to be sure that we got everything. “Had a horrible experience of a patient passing a leg once,” the attending told me. “Now I make sure everything is accounted for before I’m done.”

That experience had a profound effect on me. I reconstructed that little body with tears streaming down my face. I saw firsthand how well developed a fetus is at just 16 weeks. I’ll never forget that experience and from that day on knew that I could never terminate a pregnancy. Turns out that was not even an issue for me as I had trouble sustaining pregnancies. Isn’t it ironic how life works??

Perhaps you are angered at women who terminate pregnancies because you are doing all that you can to sustain your pregnancy and save your baby. Perhaps you feel guilty because you terminated a pregnancy in the past and you are wondering if the precarious little life you are working desperately to save is payback for past transgressions. Whatever your position, I’d just like you to think about how we could make things better.

We are sexual beings and until we come to grips with sexuality in a healthy and responsible way, sexually transmitted diseases and unintended pregnancies will persist. As parents, educators, community activists and concerned citizens we can help create healthy, responsible attitudes towards sex. We can do it – without all the killing. But we cannot remain silent and we cannot assume that someone else will do it.

If you don’t want to speak out publicly about your views start small, in your little corner of the world. The little one that you are carrying will one day be a living, breathing, sexual being. What are you going to tell your child about sex? How will you teach your child to be responsible about sex? How are you going to equip and educate your child about his or her sexual responsibility so that they won’t ever even have to consider an abortion?

In between the baby registries, birth plans and college financial planning, please take a little time to consider how you want to broach this very delicate topic with your child. Write a little something down and put it away. It may seem hard to imagine now, but your decision today could one day be the difference between life and death.