Texas abortion ban is about controlling women

Many people, including the media, have been speculating why the insurance commissioner in Washington would call out an anti-abortion law in Texas that greatly restricts women’s rights and threatens their health.

Photo of woman with handmaid’s dress holding picture of Texas
Texas’s new proposal shows why abortion law is a mess in America — The Economist

There are more than a few reasons.

Reason 1. Commissioner Kreidler is one of just 11 elected insurance commissioners in the nation. Like all insurance commissioners, his office regulates health insurers that offer and provide insurance services that fall under state law, including reproductive health services. He’s long supported a woman’s right to choose. He sees the Texas law as a looming threat to women’s health and well-being.

Reason 2. The Texas law gives no consideration for rape or incest. A rape or incest victim must still give birth to her attacker’s child. This is even more restrictive than the federal Hyde Amendment, which limits federal funding for abortions and has exceptions for rape and incest. The Texas law demonstrates cruelty that is hard to fathom.

Reason 3. The hypocrisy of the law. Some facts about Texas today:

  • Texas is by far the worst state in the nation at providing health care, with its 18% rate of residents with no health insurance. This is due in large part because the state refuses to expand its Medicaid program. The failure to expand coverage and contraception options denies low-income women in Texas the opportunity to prevent pregnancies and puts them at greater risk of becoming subject to the new law.
  • Texas continues to discriminate against those with lower incomes and people of color. An organization there that helps people seeking abortions found that 75% of its clients were people of color. Most already had children. Half did not have paying work. And 40% were uninsured.
  • The Texas law permits and even encourages citizens to file lawsuits against anyone who “engages in conduct that aids and abets” an abortion — or even “intends” to help. Plaintiffs do not need to know the person they file suit against. If they win, they are entitled to up to $10,000 from the defendant — plus legal fees. But defendants who win cases are not allowed to recoup their legal fees under this bounty system.
  • Republican Gov. Greg Abbott opposes abortion. But he recently tested positive for Covid-19. He attributed his recovery to the vaccinations he received along with a monoclonal antibodies treatment derived from aborted fetuses.
  • Texas continues to be one of the worst states for contracting Covid-19 — especially if you are a child. A recent news report tells the story: “Texas schools have amassed more than 50,000 confirmed coronavirus cases in students in just a couple of weeks. More than a dozen school districts have closed temporarily as a result of the disease, and Texas is a leader in child deaths from Covid-19.” (64 deaths as of Sept. 10)
  • Gov. Abbott banned local government officials from mandating masks in public schools. Masks are an inexpensive and widely available option proven to prevent the spread of Covid. Masks help save the lives of children who are not yet eligible for a vaccine. But the Republican attorney general is suing school districts that want students and staff to wear masks.

The law’s advocates in Texas seem mostly focused on one thing: Exercising total control over a woman’s right to decide what it is best for her. Name one law that restricts a medical procedure for a man.

There isn’t one.

Commissioner Kreidler is just one of many voices raising concerns about Texas. At least 12 other states are considering the Texas law as model to overturn abortion rights. And the U.S. Supreme Court refused to intervene in Texas, although the law is under challenge and will likely end up before the justices.

But for now, women’s rights in Texas are under siege. Rape and incest victims face the real horror of bearing an attacker’s child. Medical professionals and others can be ratted out for money. The law should be called out for what it is — an unconstitutional action that should be overturned.

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WA State Office of the Insurance Commissioner

WA State Office of the Insurance Commissioner

Washington state Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler regulates the insurance industry and protects insurance consumers.