Various Texas legislators, including Rep. Donna Howard, gathered in the open-air rotunda to show their support for Women's Health issues and concerns at the Texas State Capitol Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014.
Ralph Barrera/Austin American-Statesman/AP Photo

A different kind of ‘achievement’ for women

When it comes to policymakers imposing new restrictions on reproductive rights, a fierce national push has been underway since 2011, but arguably no state has gone further than Texas.
As Katie McDonough explained yesterday, the status of reproductive healthcare in Texas “had been dire long before conservative lawmakers passed the omnibus measure to shutter reproductive health clinics, restrict safe abortion services and leave thousands of women without access to necessary care,” but it’s certainly worse now than a few years ago, thanks to sweeping new laws and budget cuts.
It’s against this backdrop that Texas officials decided to host a hearing yesterday to recognize their own “achievements” in the area of women’s health. Tara Culp-Ressler noted:
On Thursday, a panel of Texas lawmakers convened a hearing to discuss how to build on the state’s “previous legislative achievements in women’s healthcare.” The Senate committee invited two men — the executive commissioner of Texas Health and Human Services and the commissioner of the Department of State Health Services — to testify about women’s access to preventative health services.

State Sen. Jane Nelson (R), who chairs the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, told the Texas Tribune that the hearing is intended to discuss the “progress” in running the new Texas Women’s Health Program.

The new “program” was the result of Texas’ policy defunding Planned Parenthood.
Characterizing the recent results as an “achievement,” though, seems wildly in appropriate. As McDonough’s report added, “Republican “reforms” to the system have resulted in a 77 percent drop in the number of women being served by state health clinics at an additional cost of around 20 percent. The maternal mortality rate – particularly among women of color – is on the rise, and Texas has the highest uninsured rate in the nation.”
Culp-Ressler talked to one local woman adversely affected by the Texas Republicans’ policies on women’s health. “When I heard about the hearing – well, I felt like if the Daily Show was going to create a parody, they couldn’t have done a better job,” she said. “If Texas wants to protect women’s health, I have a helpful suggestion. Just reinstate the old program we used to have!”
Disclosure: My wife works for Planned Parenthood, but played no part in this piece.