Just when you thought Republicans couldn’t get any worse, they find a way. Although Texas Republicans failed to get their beloved bathroom bill passed, they more than made up for it by turning House Bill 214 into law. The special legislative session decided that abortions should not be covered by general health insurance plans, forcing women in Texas to purchase supplemental insurance should they wish to have insurance coverage for an abortion. Alarmingly, the law does not include exceptions for rape or incest, meaning that women will still have to pay out of pocket for an abortion even if the unwanted pregnancy was the result of rape.
Not surprisingly, Democrats have taken to mocking the new law as requiring Texas women to purchase “rape insurance” should they not want to be required to carry a rapist’s unwanted baby to term. Governor Greg Abbott, for his part, has praised the law as freeing Texans from having to subsidize the death of “unborn children.” In the aftermath of Charlottesville, it is unlikely that Abbott’s sneering brand of conservatism will win the approval of many centrists. The idea of forcing women to give birth to rapists’ children if they cannot afford supplemental health insurance is rather unpalatable.
Abbott’s bill will also become a centerpiece of liberal propaganda, with the Democratic Party currently struggling with the issue of abortion. In the unexpected era of Donald Trump, some Democrats are arguing that the party should agreeably back conservative Democratic candidates who are not pro-choice. Having lost territory to the GOP, some Dems are willing to move toward the center to compete for ceded territory, or even just hold their ground. In swing districts, pro-life Democrats may be able to win where pro-choice Dems would be branded as too liberal.
For Democrats who insist on a pro-choice litmus test, Texas’ new abortion law is a perfect example of the threat of complacency. If you do not ardently defend women’s right to abortion as a basic medical procedure, you might end up having to purchase “rape insurance.” And what will be next on the GOP chopping block? What other procedures will be deemed unacceptable for conservative citizens to subsidize?
Ironically, the idea that citizens should be free from subsidizing certain medical procedures, allegedly on religious grounds, is fraught with peril. If you are an ultra-conservative Christian who believes that everything is God’s will, you may support no medical procedures. Modern medicine may be seen as an affront to God’s will, for he was the one who chose to make someone sick or injured in the first place.
When Greg Abbott was severely injured by a falling tree branch in 1984, while the 27-year-old future politician was jogging in Houston, he received modern medical attention. But… should he have? If you are a true believer in the supremacy of God’s omnipotence, then it is undeniable that God knew, and accepted, that the tree branch would strike the young man. Since God accepted the incident, and could have prevented it with no tangible effort (due, of course, to God’s unlimited power), it must mean that Abbott’s injury on that fateful day was God’s will.
If God willed for young Greg Abbott to be so injured by the falling branch, then is it right for taxpayers to be expected to work against God’s will? A truly devout Christian might argue that it is unfair to subsidize any medical care at all, including Abbott’s, for all injuries and illnesses are God’s will. But, without going to extremes, it’s not hard to find golden examples of Republican hypocrisy when it comes to medical care and Christian values.
Remember New Jersey governor Chris Christie? The obese politician received lap band surgery a few years ago. Wouldn’t devout Christians consider Christie’s ample weight the result of gluttony, one of the seven deadly sins? Since Christie’s health problems were the result of his own gluttony, is it reasonable to ask good Christians to subsidize a loophole that helps him avoid God’s punishment for said sin?
Today, conservatives don’t want to subsidize abortion, mental health care, or drug abuse treatment. Tomorrow, they may not want to subsidize weight loss treatments. After that, who knows? And, for most citizens, it will be all well and good, until it’s their child, or spouse, or parent whose condition suddenly needs to be covered by supplemental insurance rather than the basic package. Those with an excessive BMI may be forced to purchase supplemental insurance to cover weight loss procedures. Those with a family history of mental illness may have to purchase supplemental insurance to be able to see a counselor or psychiatrist.
If this is the Texas of the future, most businesses and non-radical citizens will want no part of it. Texas’ best and brightest will leave and droves, unwilling to remain in a state that forces them to purchase “rape insurance” or other humiliating policies. Greg Abbott, you and your cronies in Austin just gave Texas one heck of a black eye.