Texas: Not a Model for Women’s Reproductive Rights

By Daniel Nardini

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - CommentaryFour states have passed what can only be called the most restrictive anti-abortion laws in the United States. These states are Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky and Ohio. All four of these states are having their anti-abortion laws challenged in court, and so far Kentucky’s anti-abortion law is being blocked by court order. There is no question that extreme right wing and extremist religious groups and politicians are waging a concerted effort to make abortion and even sex education completely illegal in the United States. They are doing this by getting people who are against any and all abortions illegal or greatly restricting them (even in the case of rape or incest) into state office or pressuring state politicians to pass draconian anti-abortion laws. Even with the U.S. Supreme Court having ruled in Roe vs. Wade that abortion is legal and therefore a right, clearly there are those who are trying to make the whole thing illegal one step at a time. Their effort is to get enough states to pass anti-abortion laws so that they hope the U.S. Supreme Court will overturn their original ruling made in 1973. If nothing else, these extremists are trying to close off avenues where women can get abortions in the states they live in.

One state that has had a fairly restrictive anti-abortion law in place is Texas. Abortions become illegal after 20 weeks. Worse, Texas will not allow insurance to pay for abortions unless a woman can get separate abortion insurance for terminating a pregnancy. Some of the laws Texas had passed have been struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court, but some of those laws remain in place. One thing is for sure—Texas has one of the highest teenage pregnancy rates in the United States. This is because Texas does not require (or even greatly restricts) the teaching of sex education in the public schools. Thus, teenage women do not learn about how to have safe sex, or how to use prophylactics. It gets worse. If sex education is used in any public schools, then teachers are required to teach abstinence until marriage as part of the “best way to insure safe sex.” As teens’ bodies grow and mature, without proper guidance they could suffer from sexually transmitted diseases or unwanted pregnancies. Hence, what teenage women do not know may seriously harm their health. Texas also does not teach anything about gay or lesbian sexual behavior. If anything, it is actually taught that it is an “unhealthy lifestyle” in Texas. For teens experiencing all kinds of emotions they have yet to come to terms with, being taught you might be doing something “criminal” can be both physically and psychologically traumatic. But this is Texas, and the state is not kind to women or their reproductive rights or for that matter their rights period.

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