Texas politics: Women’s health in Texas, Colorado

Published 10:13 am Friday, July 24, 2015

If reducing the number of abortions is actually the goal of Texas Republican politicians, rather than going berserk over a film designed to embarrass Planned Parenthood, their investigative efforts could include a Colorado experiment.

The much-edited film of a lunch conversation between the director of medical programs for Planned Parenthood and two abortion foes, posing as representatives of a company to buy fetal tissue for research, predictably produced outrage from Texas Republicans from Gov. Greg Abbott on down.

Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards went on national TV to apologize for the casual tone of the much-edited lunch discussion by Dr. Deborah Nucatola.

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She “has been reprimanded,” Richards said — while branding as false allegations that Planned Parenthood “profits in any way from tissue donation.”

Any money is simply reimbursement for costs of collecting, protecting and delivering the fetal tissue donated by the women involved for vital medical research, Richards said.

The Texas legislative approach to reducing the number of abortions has been, in the name of women’s health, to make it as tough as possible to get a legal abortion.

This is done by requiring unnecessary costly clinic licensing standards, invasive ultrasound procedures and mandatory waiting periods for the woman seeking the abortion.

It is not unlike the Republican effort, in the name of reducing election fraud, to put as many hurdles as possible in the way of the old, the young, and minorities to actually cast a ballot.

Nationally, about half of the 6.6 million pregnancies annually are unintended.

That’s where the Colorado difference comes in. Colorado tries to make it easier to reduce unplanned pregnancies, and thus abortions.

What Colorado did was to try to answer this question: if teenagers and poor women had access to free, long-acting birth control — intrauterine devices and implants that prevent pregnancy for years — would they use them?

The answer, after a six-year, privately funded experiment, was overwhelmingly “yes.” The birthrate by teenagers saw a 40 percent drop, and their rate of abortions by 42 percent, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

For unmarried women under 25 who hadn’t finished high school, there was a similar drop in the number of births.

In 2009, half of the first births by women in poorer areas of Colorado happened before age 21. In 2014, half of the first births didn’t happen until after age 24 — giving women time and opportunity to get some more education, and a job, and some maturity, before becoming pregnant.

The state health department says every dollar spent on the long-acting birth control saved $5.85 for the state’s Medicaid program, which pays for more than three-fourths of teenage pregnancies and births.

Between 2010 and 2013, the enrollment in the federal nutrition program for women with young kids dropped almost a fourth.

So, Texans, if we really want to prevent abortions, wonder what would happen if we gave the Colorado approach a try?

• • •

Obama to GOP: Read First, Comment Later. . . .  In a free-wheeling press conference July 15, about the nuclear deal the Obama Administration and other countries exhaustively hammered out with Iran, President Obama had these requests of critics:

“I challenge those who are objecting to this agreement, No. 1, to read the agreement before they comment on it;

“No. 2, to explain specifically where it is they think that this agreement does not prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, and why they’re right, and people like Ernie Moniz, who is an MIT nuclear physicist and an expert in these issues is wrong. . . . ;

“And then, present an alternative. And if the alternative is that we should bring Iran to heel through military force, then those critics should say so. And that will be an honest debate.”

• • •

Perry Pay Dirt. . . . Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s decision several days ago to be almost the lone outspoken GOP presidential candidate to criticize Donald Trump’s blast at Mexican immigrants paid off when Trump said that U.S. Sen. John McCain, who spent five years as a Prisoner of War, “is not a war hero.”

That gave Perry, an Air Force veteran, the chance to be on national TV, charging that someone who would criticize a former POW who served this country in the military is unfit to be commander-in-chief of those forces.

“(He) should immediately withdraw from the race for president,” Perry said in a news release.

Perry, when asked whether he thought Trump’s over-the-top statements should disqualify him for an upcoming Fox News debate, said he’d be more than happy to take him on.

Contact McNeely at davemcneely111@gmail.com or 512/458-2963.