It appears that Greg Abbott, the governor of Texas, will soon be signing into law Senate Bill 8, which bans abortion after a fetal heartbeat can be detected (about six weeks), and House Bill 1515, which provides that ANYONE can sue ANYONE who “aids or abets” someone getting an abortion in violation of state laws. Consequently, such a movement will result in an infinitesimal number of lawsuits, some of which will travel all the way to the Supreme Court – exactly what conservatives in Texas hope will happen, since with the current right-leaning Court, the chance of overturning Roe v Wade is now, more than ever, a real possibility.
I, too, believe in the sanctity of life, and I can’t imagine that under any circumstance I would have gotten an abortion myself, even if I were to learn that my unborn child’s health and my own health were endangered. However, to me, the sanctity of a child's life extends beyond birth for eighteen more years. My husband and I have proven that belief by
providing a nurturing and loving home for three of our grandchildren when their parents didn’t. But the value of a child’s life beyond birth seems to be an afterthought to our state lawmakers, since Texas currently ranks 41 out of 50 states for overall child well-being.
So here is my open letter to our esteemed legislators who vote(d) to pass both these two bills and to our governor, who most likely has presidential aspirations:
Dear Texas Lawmakers:
In your fervor to pass into law bills that will restrict the right of a woman to obtain an abortion, I do hope you are also considering taking the following actions to protect these women and their unwanted children:
Increase funding to Child Protective Services. In Texas, 4 children per week die of abuse or neglect. There are 184 confirmed victims daily, and 7 are maltreated every hour – these are the reported cases; actual incidences are far higher. Since child abuse and neglect will rise exponentially with abortion prevention, far more CPS case workers will be necessary. While you’re at it, increase their salary and reduce their caseload if you want to see those stats change.
Overhaul the foster care system. Unwanted children often end up in the foster care system. Already emotionally damaged from abusive and/or neglectful parents, these children are moved between foster homes an average of seven times, never having an opportunity to bond with an adult role model who cares for and nurtures them throughout their childhood. Then, at age 18, the state dumps them into the real world with little or no preparation for becoming a productive adult.
Provide free daycare to single parents and low-income families. But let’s talk about single mothers, since this legislation targets mostly single women. Daycare, on average, costs $9,207 per year, approximately 20% of the average $43,889 income earned by single mothers. Add to that the cost of taxes, housing, food, clothing, transportation, healthcare, and all other necessities of life, you are getting into the negative digits. While you’re at it, provide free healthcare for BOTH the mother and child and housing subsidies for all these children. Oh, and don’t forget …at least two years of college or technical education beyond high school, since the mother certainly will be unable to save for the education that has become essential for one to become an independent, tax-paying adult.
Provide supplemental income for grandparents or other relatives who take over the care of children whose parents are unable to care for them - $10,000 to $13,000 a year, the cost of raising a child in Texas. As a grandmother who has raised three grandchildren, I can tell you that our cost-of-living has been hammered by the extra expense, especially since our retirement income is fixed. And while you’re at it, provide free mental healthcare for both the grandparents who have seen their retirement dreams go down the toilet and the children who can’t understand why their parents aren’t raising them.
Beef up the Attorney General’s efforts to force absentee fathers to pay child support. 57 percent of single fathers in the USA pay little or no child support. I can speak from experience that the process of obtaining child support is daunting and sometimes impossible. Because one father lives out of state and keeps moving around to avoid doing so, I finally gave up after being called to court five times with no progress having been made on the case. For the other two children, it took an average of four years for my suit to go to court. And enforcement?? Forget about it.
Make an organized effort to provide reproductive education and FREE birth control to teens. Your “abstinence only” policy is obviously not working, since Texas is among the top ten states with the highest teen birth rates. This is not the 50s. Teens are now bombarded daily with media messages that sex is not only fun, but expected, but the consequences are not addressed. You can’t put the cat back in the bag. Kids are having sex. Stop trying to destroy Planned Parenthood, and work with them to PREVENT unwanted pregnancy – rendering abortion a thing of the past. Instead of spending all your educational dollars on a stupid high-stakes test that does nothing to advance knowledge, teach kids in school about real life – raising children, paying bills, building strong relationships.
Does all of this sound ridiculous? Socialistic? Why so? You are our state leaders, and as such, we expect you to make decisions with our welfare in mind, most especially the welfare of our children who have no control over their life circumstances. Instead, you attack women, especially poor women, and neglect children, especially poor children. Your dominant focus on gun rights, voting rights, anti-immigration rights, and corporate rights has made me wonder where, on your long list of considerations, human rights, ranks. You sit in your ivory tower and legislate your version of morality. You vow to protect the unborn, but in your fierce determination to do so, you fail to protect the women and the children who are already here. Your fervor cools at the moment of birth. Hypocrisy, thy name is Texas government.
Ann E. Casey Foundation: Kids Count Data Book
Average cost of daycare in Texas: $9,207 www.austin360.com
Average yearly income of single mothers in Texas: 43, 889 www.ziprecruiter.com
Cost of raising a child per year in Texas: between $10,000 and $13.000 www.childandfamily research.utexas.edu