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Friday, May 20, 2011

Texas, You're Crazy. But I Still Love You

Ah, politics. In a state like Texas, it rarely goes the way I want it to. Take the current legislative session, for example. The GOP has a supermajority, making legislation like the Sonogram and "Loser Pays" Bills as easy to pass as a community college course in Philosophy. It's maddening to watch from my liberal sidelines as women's rights, education, and the environment take a back seat to corporate interests. The three biggest blows to the state are as follows:

The Sonogram Bill that passed in the Texas House last week requires all women pursuing an abortion to receive a sonogram no more than 24 hours prior to the procedure. The reasoning is simple: a woman, when presented with the tiny little heartbeat, will instantly change her mind and carry the pregnancy to term. Cue sappy music and montage of happy baby becoming a happy child with happy parents in a happy, happy world. The reality is far more sobering, however, as 48% of women seeking abortions are either single or in a troubled relationship, and 73% claim they cannot afford a baby at the time, according to a 2004 study.[1] This results in a strain on state welfare systems, health care costs, and education. The most infuriating aspect, as far as I'm concerned, is that abortion is legal and the government (state or otherwise) has no business guilting and harassing women by forcing doctors to approach their job with anything other than professional objectivism.

The "Loser Pays" Bill that passed last Thursday is reminiscent of tort reform legislation of the 1990's. It states that plaintiffs who lose their lawsuits be required to pay all legal fees. In theory, this legislation is intended to prevent frivolous lawsuits, but, as my father said in a recent Letter to the Editor in the Dallas Morning News, "it benefits the powerful few at the expense of the many less powerful; and it will restrict access to justice for many, with none of the claimed savings trickling down."[2]
And finally, the bill that will likely result in the detriment to the well-being and safety of college kids across the state: the House wants concealed handguns to be allowed on university campuses. I have little issue with citizens maintaining the right to carry guns to protect themselves, but a school is no place to suddenly allow weapons. College is volatile enough as it is in other states, but Texas?! We Texans like to do everything louder and bigger and badder than others, which can be a good thing in the right situation. But a gun in the hands of an 21-year-old hothead who claims it's his god-given right to "protect" himself? I give it a week before someone is killed. The problem is that college kids don't yet understand the difference between their right and a necessity. I can already picture the bull sessions in frat houses on West Campus, in which guys will be lining up to guzzle beer and compete over whos[e gun is] bigger. Long story short: more lives will be lost than protected with this legislation (and don't give me the whole "well-wouldn't-you-want-to-be-able-to-protect-yourself-from-said-hothead" argument because that's cyclical reasoning and you know it).

Ugh, Texas. I love you, but c'mon! I just hope that the above bills aren't met with even more backwards thinking before this session comes to a close.

[1] Finer, LB. Reasons US women have abortions: Quantitative and qualitative perspectives. Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 2004, 34 (1): 110-118.
[2] Davies, M. (9 May, 2011)…Include 'loser' legislation [Letter to the Editor]. Dallas Morning News

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