Reproductive Rights Funds Go to Anti-Abortion Counseling

By Greg Moses

First you make their pregnancies more likely, then you dismantle
services that would support their children, finally you talk them out
of
abortion. This is the new "pro-life" regime of public policy, thanks to the
Texas Legislature.

In a personal account of being turned away
from her annual exam, an Austin Indymedia
reporter writes about the morning she and 25 other
women ("women of color of course!") were advised by Planned Parenthood
staff of the new state order. A story at the Planned Parenthood
website explains that funding was shifted by the legislature "from
family planning clinics, such as Planned Parenthood, that provide
health services and contraception for low-income women, to so-called
‘pregnancy counseling clinics’ that devote their resources to
convincing women who have unintended pregnancies not to have abortions".

Similar stories have been written in Amarillo, Waco, and Pharr. The Brownsville
Herald reports that "1,500 women in Brownsville may lose access to the
services the clinics in town provide, such as: diabetes and
hypertension screenings, women’s health exams, cervical and breast
cancer screenings and birth control."

In an AP story archived at North Texas
Planned Parenthood, researchers find that over the past decade an
increasing percent of births are not wanted by mothers. The AP
report trades quotes between anti-abortion activists who say the trend
shows a "pro-life" shift and reproductive rights activists who say the
numbers reflect decreased access to "abortion providers."

Strangely missing from the AP report is consideration of the logical
possibility that the increasing number of unwanted births might also
reflect how the attack on "abortion providers" has resulted in
decreased availability of birth control services, as reported by Austin
Indymedia.

Also missing from the analysis is consideration of the effect of
worsening conditions for parenthood over the past decade, exemplified
in Texas by attacks on children’s health insurance. Poor family
services might also account for why mothers increasingly report
unwanted births.

The problem with the so-called anti-abortion agenda is that it focuses
too narrowly on a single, isolated moment of choice. The effective
result is a war on rights to reproduction and parenthood.

To reduce the
number of abortions requires attention to an expanded range of
choices, not only in terms of whether to have an abortion or not, but
in terms of birth control and support for parenthood services,
too. But since the broader agenda would involve empowerment and
solidarity, the so-called anti-abortion movement is not
interested. What they prefer is a hypocritical agenda of judgment and
constraint that reminds us of the Right Rev. Dimsdale in Hawthorne’s
"Scarlett Letter". What they really mean by "pro-life" is
pro-patriarchal control.

A
true agenda of liberation would make the choice of abortion less likely
by increasing the percentage of planned and wanted pregnancies in an
environment that welcomes children through robust services for health
and education. Try telling that to the legislature in Texas.

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