Forum provides insight into pitfalls of Texas women’s healthcare
Published: Thursday, January 31, 2013
Updated: Thursday, January 31, 2013 23:01
In the “Collateral Damage” forum held Wednesday at SMU, panelists, including a Texas state senator and the President of Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas, spoke of the dangers of state legislature limiting the services and funding of family planning clinics like Planned Parenthood.
“[Legislation] is being made outside of the bounds of what men should be deciding for women,” Texas Democratic Senator Wendy Davis said Thursday night at the Controversial Women’s Health Care Legislation In Texas Forum.
Davis, along with Ken Lambrecht, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas, and local obstetrician and SMU alumna Deborah Fuller, spoke about the dramatic funding cuts and changes to women’s healthcare in Texas during the forum entitled “Collateral Damage.”
“Women’s health and reproductive rights is one of the most important issues facing women and everyone else today,” Beth Newman, director of SMU’s Women’s and Gender Studies Program, said in McCord Auditorium.
Under a law passed in 2011 that was the focus of a series in the Texas Observer, Texas women must have a sonogram, listen to description of their fetus and then wait another 24 hours to have an abortion.
“For many women who are poor, who are underemployed, who probably have children at home, who are taking time off of work, that can be a tremendous challenge to make the two day trek,” said Davis at the forum sponsored by the Texas Observer.
Lembrecht, who related stories of Planned Parenthood patients, told the audience of around 100, “I personally don’t think this is about abortion. I think it’s about controlling women and about telling women what they can and cannot do with their bodies.”
Fuller said that the cuts to the state’s family planning funding also affects Medicare and Medicaid patients who can no longer visit Planned Parenthood or similar family planning clinics. “For nine months of care and six weeks postpartum care, physicians are paid $750,” Fuller said. “I can’t afford to provide for my children if I care for Medicare patients.”
In the past year, over 60 Planned Parenthood family planning clinics have been closed in the past year, thanks to the state’s funding cuts.
Davis, who serves a portion of Tarrant County, sees hope for the future even with the waves of women’s healthcare legislature pitfalls. “People in Texas have begun voting less with their party hats on and more with their common sense,” said Davis.
Bekah Boyer, an SMU senior and president of the Women’s Interest Network, saw the forum as an opportunity to increase awareness on campus about contraceptive and women’s health issues. “In light of the current healthcare decisions on the federal level, many people think that the issue is over. But it’s not. It’s a lot more complicated especially in terms of contraceptive and abortion rights,” said Boyer.
As many audience members, both men and women, asked the panelists how they could become involved in creating positive change in the legislature, Lambrecht, Davis, and Fuller urged the audience to write and contact their local senators and representatives. Planned Parenthood is also hosting a women’s health lobby day on March 7th and the Greater Texas division will be sending women from DFW and Waco to Austin to speak with government officials at the state capitol about women’s health.