Back in June of 2011, some Republican rep from Arlington, TX named Bill Zedler proposed a law that said that we (abortion providers) would have to report to the State the following things, if you were our patient:
- your age
- your ethnicity
- your marital status
- where you live
- your highest level of education
- the age of the man who impregnated you
- what method of birth control you were on when you got pregnant
- why you’re having an abortion
- the number of children you have
- how many abortions or miscarriages you’ve had
- who referred you to an abortion clinic
- how you’re paying for it
- if you read the required “printed information” about the abortion
- if you saw your sonogram
- if you listened to the fetal heart tone
- if the Doctor explained to you everything that the state asked him to explain to you.
- Any complications that might have occurred during the abortion procedure, along with the Physician name/facility/type of procedure/etc.
…Feeling violated yet? There’s more, but we’ll spare you.
Mr. Bill’s bill didn’t pass… and he wasn’t satisfied with that. So he took these requirements straight to the Executive Director of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission to have the state adopt some of the failed amendment’s rules, and implement them as agency rules instead. So in other words, he most likely used his personal contacts (Bill used to work in the business/healthcare industry) to side-step the democratic process, and essentially pass the bill anyway.
Why is it a problem if the State has all of this information on you, if you have an abortion? The proposed required reporting wouldn’t necessarily be a problem, if TX didn’t have a record of using statistics on women who choose abortion, against women who choose abortion.
Let’s be real. They’re most likely not using these statistics to supplement an argument for birth control or sex education. They’re not using this to protect women. They’re using this to frame future arguments against abortion being an accessible procedure for women, and potentially shut down abortion clinics that don’t meet their requirements. Which means – in the same way they’re on the verge of shutting down clinics in Kansas and Mississippi – they’ll be able to tell us how large our hallways have to be – how large our janitors closet has to be – how many doors and windows and square feet we have to have – what temperature our A/C has to be set to – in order for our clinic to stay open. This is the first step towards being backed into a corner that we can’t get out of. This is also the first step towards people like Bill Zedler having information that they can and will hold against you.
So what can we do to stop it? This is one of those times where we can finally take the offensive instead of the defensive route, and prevent anti-choice legislation before it has the chance to happen. This isn’t about health to the people who have proposed these changes, this is about regulation. Stop it in it’s tracks, and let them know that we aren’t OK with them keeping all of this information on our personal and private decisions.
1. Sign the petition. The goal is set at 1,000 signatures: http://www.change.org/petitions/texas-department-of-state-health-services-stop-new-reporting-requirements-for-abortions-in-tx
2. Send DSHS your comments directly: P.O. Box 149347 Austin, Texas 78714-9347
P.S. And if this still doesn’t make you uncomfortable and you don’t see the point of arguing, then how about this news combined with the fact that the state of Texas isn’t exactly #1 at keeping the public’s private data under wraps?