The Texas Pharisees

tissot-woe-to-you-scribes-and-pharisees-747x483The Texas Senate approval of one of the strictest anti-abortion measures may have effectively closed 37 of the 42 clinics in the entire state and banned abortions after 20 weeks. Fox News pundit Erick Erickson sent a tweet, with a link to a site that sells coat hangers.  The historical intent of the message is that women who couldn’t find an underground doctor often inserted knitting needles or wire coat hangers into their vagina to terminate their pregnancy. Unfortunately, the coat hanger is not a myth.

Texas Senator Glenn Hegar, stated,

I stand by this bill. I believe it raises the standard of care for women in Texas. It is also important that we protect unborn children from pain.”

However, Texas Senator Dan Patrick, rejected the assertion of Democrats that bill sponsors are motivated only by their opposition to legal abortions.

Anyone who says this is not about protecting women’s health is flat wrong. This bill really is about the safety of the baby and the mother. Everyone who supports this bill values both lives.”

Historically, we know restricting or banning safe and legal abortions does nothing to prevent abortion. Instead, it ensures that illegal and unsafe abortions will abound and women will pay for their attempt at reproductive freedom with their lives. Banning abortion and making safe, legal abortion care inaccessible is deadly.

Contrary to Governor Rick Perry and Senators Hegar and Partick’s philosophy, the Texas bill does little to protect children. Think I’m wrong? Here’s a snippet of facts:

  • 25% of all Texas children live in poor families.
  • 6% of all Texas children in poor families only have one parent employed full-time, year-round. Compare that to 85% of children in not poor families.
  • 55% of children in poor families live with a single parent.
  • 1.2 million Texas children have neither private nor public health insurance. Uninsured kids get sick. Their parents have no place to take them other than a public hospital’s emergency room, which by law cannot turn them away. And if those parents cannot pay the extremely expensive bill? The taxpayer picks up the tab.
  • Poor children miss out on the most important factor in getting good care: a doctor who knows the patient and their medical history. Children with asthma and diabetes – chronic diseases best treated by a family doctor on a routine basis – comprise many, if not most, of the kids who show up in the emergency room.

It’s disingenuous to say you’re protecting children on the one hand while doing little for constituents living under poverty’s anvil with the other. The Texas legislature cut state spending on Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program by $2.03 billion for 2012-13. More than $800 million of those cuts were to reimbursement rates for doctors who agree to treat poor or disabled children.

So while Texas claimed to protect the unborn, legislators did little to help prevent abortions or prevent unplanned pregnancy. State legislators did nothing to change the need for abortion among Texas women. All the legislature really did is declare state decisions can be given priority over mothers’ decisions after 20 weeks.  At the end of the day, if you’re a single mother in need of a babysitter to attend college and past poverty, don’t expect the Governor or many legislators to volunteer.

The Texas legislature should not stand before Christ and claim how wonderful they are. Biblically speaking, the entire special session and all its pseudo effort mirrors that of the Pharisees, it’s more about religious piety and image than it was about actually supporting the safety of either “the baby or mother.”

Abortion is not simply a black or white issue. Anyone proposing to claim otherwise is ignorant. When thinking of this whole mess, (inspired from Rabbi Brad Hirschfield) I am amazed how religion mobilizes people to do awful things. There will be a dark side to completely outlawing abortion. And anyone who loves religious experience, including me, had better understand there is a serious side. Declaring war on the right-to-choose will have dramatic unintended consequences throughout the country.

There’s simply way too much ignorance … on all sides. And people wonder why a coat hanger becomes a solid option.



Categories: Do No Harm, Religion, Social Justice

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