Texas’ policies disproportionately affect minority women

Alyssa Fernandez

Last Wednesday, Gov. Greg Abbott had a banquet. From their $60-$500 seats, guests listened as Abbott declared, “My promise to the abortion lobby is that Texas will be the strongest pro-life state in the United States of America.”  

What caught my attention wasn’t the fact that Texas lawmakers are predictably attempting to restrict abortion access. It was a sign, garnished in pink with little hearts stamped around the border that read, “Greg Abbott Hates Women.”

Texas is no stranger to restricting abortion. Even after the Supreme Court ruled HB 2 to be unconstitutional for placing an undue burden on women’s access to abortion, Abbott and other pro-lifers are continuing their fight to limit abortion, replacing HB2 with the LIFE Initiative. However, what is often left out of the abortion debate is how these laws discriminate largely against low-income minority women, and their unique barriers should be recognized.

Laws such as HB2 disproportionately discriminate against minority women by barring their means of accessibility. HB2 strictly regulated the provisions for an abortion clinic to operate and in turn, dropped the number of clinics in Texas from 40 to 18. This created new barriers for rural, non-white women to access abortions where in some counties, this law increased the distance to over 350 miles to the nearest clinic for some. As a result, these provisions even led to an increase in live births for minority, low-income women in Texas.  

Ultimately, HB2 severely burdened minority women’s access to abortion. However, the LIFE Initiative seems to have a different approach.

The most glaring problem with the LIFE Initiative proposed by Abbott is the plan to completely defund Planned Parenthood. This changes the topic of the debate from abortion access to reproductive rights as a whole.

According to the Guttmacher institute, “In 2014, 1,795,160 women in Texas were in need of publicly supported contraceptive services and supplies,” in which 70 percent of these women in need are non-white. With the LIFE Initiative, the women who are most in need of publicly-funded family planning services will be denied that with the removal of Planned Parenthood.

At the end of the day, it isn’t really Greg “the Woman Hater” Abbott who has a personal vendetta against women, rather it’s his politics that discriminate against women. What the sign fails to consider is that these policies do not discriminate against women equally, meaning it assumes these restrictions places the same barriers to all women, regardless of race, ethnicity, income status and other factors. In the fight for reproductive justice, these factors must be taken into consideration in order to account for those who do not have the opportunity to speak up about their own experiences.

Fernandez is a rhetoric and writing and Spanish senior from Allen. She is a senior columnist.