An Assault in Texas

A ban on abortions is in effect in the state of Texas. As of this writing the U.S. Supreme Court has not responded to challenges to the new law that effectively ends access to abortion in the state. The law, SB8, outlaws abortions after cardiac activity can be detected in the fetus, roughly six weeks after conception. And it incentives private citizens to report anyone who facilitates an abortion or may have violated the law by offering money. Pregnant people’s bodies, say advocates, feminists and commentators are bounties to be hunted.

But this policing extends far beyond one law, beyond reproductive health. It comes from a nexus of social, political and economic forces overlooked in an outrage defines “policing women’s bodies” with one law. To ignore this nexus makes one law, just that, one law, one issue. But a person’s body is not neatly compartmentalized to fit news headlines, a person’s life is not partitioned by the latest outrage.

For Latina magazine, several years ago, I described the confluence of forces that bear down on Latinas in Texas. Below are some of the key findings. Read the entire story here. Note: this piece specifically looks at women and Latinas in particular. It is now common practice, when referring to reproductive health generally, to refer to pregnant people in non-gendered terms. I have preserved the original wording out of fealty to the piece.

Eventually, I came to see that the
angry words I directed at my cousin were really meant to push back against men in general having a say over a Latina’s body. This was bigger than abortion; I felt compelled to take a stand against the social, political and economic forces that bear down on our bodies in so many ways and crystallize in the dismal state of our healthcare.

Texas leads the nation in
percentage of population lacking
health insurance, and more than one-half
of uninsured Texans are Latinos.

Latinas in Texas, particularly on
the border, have the highest rates of
cervical-cancer incidence and
mortality in the state
A recent survey found
that 45 percent of 318 women
seeking an abortion in late 2012—42
percent of them Latina—said they
were unable to obtain their
preferred method of birth control in
the three months before becoming
pregnant.

Where I grew up in South Texas,
Latinas learn to keep quiet or defer to
a man.

Texas ranks 42nd in the country on
education spending per capita.
Women who depend on statesupported
health care o%en work in
underpaid occupations that offer no
insurance.

Even in higher-paying
jobs, women are frequently paid less
than men for the same work.

In 2011, University of
Texas researchers found that one in
three adult Texans had suffered
violence from an intimate partner.
More than 20 percent of the women
surveyed reported becoming
pregnant as a result of forced sex.

According to a recent study by
demographer Diana Greene Foster,
women who are unable to have an
abortion are less likely to leave
abusive partners, becoming “tethered
women to violent men.”

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