|AUSTIN, July 4 - The Texas Legislature, in the guise of protecting women's health, will soon pass a bill that's designed to curb the number of abortions in Texas.
As a long-time supporter of life, I believe that reducing the number of abortions in our state is a worthy goal. However, Senate Bill 1 — and the tactics that have been employed to get it passed — is not the way to do it.
The measure would do little to prevent abortions, but merely push them to the back room. It would do the opposite of what supporters promised on the Senate floor: that strict and expensive clinic standards would enhance women's health. In reality, this new law would close most of the reproductive clinics — including those in rural areas of Senate District 19 — that provide an array of services to women that has nothing to do with abortion.
If limiting abortions were the true goal of this legislation, and not the cynical politics of the next election, there are a number of things the state could do without endangering women's health. We could:
· Require school districts to provide high quality, fact-based sex-education to their students, teaching not only abstinence and the consequences of unprotected sex, but also how to prevent unwanted pregnancies.
· Enhance adoption and foster care services in Texas and encourage women who are thinking about an abortion to consider the option of adoption.
· Expand Medicaid in Texas, giving poor women access to health care and the ability to make wise choices about having children.
· Fully fund public and higher education and encourage young girls to pursue career paths. Education and the opportunity it provides for a higher quality of life are the best weapons we have against unwanted pregnancy.
· Support and fully fund women's health programs, including Planned Parenthood, which provide vital health care services to women and help them make smarter choices about family planning.
Further, Senate Bill 1 and its House companion are not based on undisputed science, best practices, or sound public policy. Supporters claim the measure would protect women's health. If so, why is it opposed by?:
· Texas Medical Association, which says it would set a dangerous precedent by having government involved in the practice of medicine, dictating when and how a physician delivers care.
· Texas Hospital Association, which objects to the provision requiring admitting privileges for doctors.
· Texas Chapter of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, whose representatives testified that the legislation would negatively impact women’s health generally and women’s reproductive health specifically, causing unwarranted delays in reproductive treatment resulting in greater risk and increased complications for women seeking safe and legal reproductive health care.
I believe that most Texans, even those who would support an abortion at any point during pregnancy, would like to see fewer abortions performed in our state each year. Senate Bill 1 is not the way to accomplish that goal.
There are ways to choose on the side of life without sacrificing women's health in the process.
Carlos Uresti is a Texas state senator. A Democrat from San Antonio, he represents District 19.