Top 10 Women's Health Stories
A dark year for reproductive rights
1) SCOTUS STOPGAP A federal court ruling found anti-abortion House Bill 2 unconstitutional, but the 5th Circuit reversed – leaving the state with just seven abortion clinics. Then in October, a 6-3 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court temporarily struck down the rule that would force clinics to comply with the same costly building standards as ambulatory surgical centers, as well as a hospital admitting privileges rule as it applies to two clinics in underserved communities. The 5th Circuit will again hear arguments Jan. 7.
2) DUKES DECLARES In an impromptu admission during September's Texas Tribune Fest, Austin state Rep. Dawnna Dukes revealed she had undergone an abortion. Dukes made her private decision public to refute claims by anti-choice Rep.-elect Molly White, R-Belton, that legal abortion leads to psychological disorders and drug and alcohol abuse.
3) TRUTH NOT REQUIRED Crisis pregnancy centers, religious "clinics" that discourage abortion and provide false information to pregnant women, received a pass from a federal judge. City Council passed the "truth-in-advertising" measure in 2010 (revised in 2012), seeking to require CPCs to be honest about their limited health services. After a "free-speech" suit, this year the ordinance was deemed "unconstitutionally vague."
4) GHOSTWRITER RUE-D A federal judge ruled that the state of Texas, defending HB 2, had hired a widely discredited anti-abortion activist to ghostwrite witness testimony and then tried to cover it up. Vincent Rue's misleading anti-choice handiwork cost taxpayers more than $42,000.
5) COVERT ANTIS Identify and monitor abortion patients. Investigate abortion physicians and clinic staff. Search tax records for locations of abortion providers. Anti-choicers' covert-action playbook was revealed in undercover audio released by NARAL Pro-Choice and Progress Texas. "These abortionists are feeling the pressure from the pro-life movement in Texas. I think they feel like they're on the run. And that's how we want to keep it," said anti-choice poster child Abby Johnson.
6) STOP "STOP PATRIARCHY" New York pro-choice protesters stormed through Texas to "nationalize" the fight, without reaching out to or working with local reproductive rights groups. Texas advocates criticized "Stop Patriarchy" for their "enslavement" rhetoric and for bombastic, intimidating, and counterproductive tactics. Homegrown repro rights champions said: Go home. We got this.
7) HOBBY LOBBIES Following the U.S. Supreme Court ruling enabling family-owned businesses like Hobby Lobby to deny contraception insurance coverage on religious grounds, reproductive rights organizations slammed the decision as yet another defeat in the war on choice. The craft store chain needs to find a new hobby.
8) NO HEALTH CARE HERE In July, the Whole Woman's Health Austin clinic closed its doors after more than a decade in existence, due to HB 2. In addition to abortion care, the clinic provided family planning and preventative health services (exams, pap smears, birth control, emergency contraception, and counseling) to some 60,000 women. Another independent clinic closed, leaving the city with two abortion providers, Planned Parenthood's South Austin clinic and the Austin Women's Health Center.
9) COUNCIL ENDORSES CHOICE The Austin City Council passed a resolution (sponsored by Council Member Mike Martinez) denouncing HB 2 as unnecessary and potentially harmful, and called for repeal. Earlier this year, Mayor Pro Tem Sheryl Cole and CMs Bill Spelman and Laura Morrison advocated for the Women's Health Protection Act, a federal law that would prevent states from restricting abortion services.
10) FINALLY SOME FUNDING After years of starving women's health care, the Department of State Health Services initiated contracts with 60 groups to provide women's health services under an expanded primary health care program, funded over the biennium with $100 million. The funding comes after the 2011 Lege slashed $76 million – but it beats nothing.