The Texas Senate Committee on State Affairs just voted to make it legal for a doctor to neglect to tell a pregnant woman if her unborn child has major health concerns. In other words, they want it to be legal for your doctor to lie to you, to neglect to give you important information, to straight up just avoid discussing the health of the being you are growing in your very own body.
I don’t think where you fall on the issue of abortion is relevant here, so I’m not going to make this post about abortion. But I am about to make this paragraph about abortion. I am staunchly, firmly pro-choice in any and all situations. Furthermore, I am wildly insistent that women have the right to terminate a pregnancy that is dangerous, the right to terminate a pregnancy that is not viable, and the right to terminate a fetus that has a disability (severe or otherwise—dealbreakers are okay with me when it comes to pregnancy). Why am I bringing this up, though?
Because the people behind this vote are saying they’re doing this to “protect doctor’s rights and show respect to disabled children.” By children, I assume they also mean fetuses (though I would not personally say the two are the same thing). And the reason this reeeeeally sets me off? My kid has a disability. My kid has a disability, and I, when pregnant at the wildly adult age of twenty-three, repeatedly told my midwife that I didn’t want to know if there were any health concerns with our baby. And I meant it, because I was making a choice about my own child, and a choice about my own body.
And you know what? There were concerns. And about two years after his birthday, I spent a few days reading his many pages of medical records and found the spot where they knew a specific detail that directly caused his disability. But it was my choice not to find out. I was having that specific baby no matter what. We went into our pregnancy knowing that was the case, and it was our choice to make—much like it is the choice of other couples, of other women, to ask about medical conditions and disabilities and to decide to not carry a fetus to term based on that information. And that is okay. That is more than okay. That is their right.
This law, this vote, is not about respecting children who have disabilities. This is about erasing the right of women to information about a fetus who is growing inside their own bodies. This is about exerting male control over women, because these lawmakers can feel that control slipping, sliding away. They can feel it being forcibly wrested from their hands. They may have their candidate of choice in office, but the resistance is real. This is about exercising male domination over women, as often as they can, as long as they can.
The idea that these lawmakers would use the guise of respecting children with disabilities—pretending as though they respect children like the very awesome one I am raising—when they won’t even fund the healthcare of children with disabilities? No. Nah. Not here for it. Because you know who will be hardest hit? The same people who are ALWAYS hardest hit: low-income women and children, especially low-income women and children of color. Making it legal to NOT tell women they’re carrying children who will have severe disabilities, and making it legal to NOT give those women the option to abort, and stripping away the very healthcare that provides for these children (and in many cases allows them to live) after birth, and tearing away funding for social programs that help feed and clothe and house these children: TEXAS. YOU ARE A LIVING, BREATHING HYPOCRITICAL MONSTER. As Alex Zielinski wrote:
For many low-income women, the alternative—raising a severely disabled child in a state with few affordable health insurance options—would force them into poverty. This outcome, the bill’s opponents argue, would only worsen the child’s health outcomes. And the majority of the bill’s sponsors voted against state Medicaid expansion, a policy that would have made health insurance far more affordable for low-income families.
It’s also not just about abortion, or just about disabilities, or just about low-income families. This is also about access to medical care for pregnant mothers:
Not all of the bill’s opponents testified for the sake of abortion access. Rachel Tiddle, who unknowingly carried a fetus with severe abnormalities, said if she knew her fetus had severe health issues, she would have tried one of many experimental therapies to try and save her baby’s life. Instead, she gave birth to a stillborn baby.
“It’s not a doctor’s right to manipulate the family by lying, and it is not doctor’s right to decide whether an experimental therapy is worth trying,” Tiddle told the committee. “There is always chance, there is always hope.”
I know there are an awful lot of dumpster fires burning everywhere right now, but you guys? This one is worth paying attention to.