Earlier this month, McAllen and Beaumont, rural border towns in Texas, saw the closure of two more clinics that provide a full spectrum of women’s health care needs, including abortion. Because of Texas’s cruel new law, known as HB 2, people all across the state (and in neighboring states) are rapidly losing access to basic care. That’s two more clinics that can no longer provide Pap smears, cancer screenings, abortions, and birth control to their community—a community that disproportionately consists of low-income women of color who have no other options. It is expected that come September, only six clinics providing reproductive health care, including abortion, will remain. That’s down from 44 in 2011. But this shouldn’t surprise anyone – it’s the predictable consequence of an agenda that kicks the most vulnerable in our nation to the curb. It’s the outcome that forces women to use Coke and Lysol as douches. It’s the outcome of legislation that refuses to offer basic compassion and care to those who need it most. Which begs the question: What happened to the care in our health care system?
“Our country has a long and egregious history of denying women of color the ability to make our own decisions about sexuality and parenting,” says Elizabeth Dawes Gay, a native Texan and reproductive and maternal health expert. Gay, a senior associate at Reproductive Health Technologies Project continues, “It’s imperative that we move past policies that punish women and on to policies that support reproductive decision making, whatever those decisions may be.”