Texas Women

Keeping you in the know about issues affecting Texas women.



Everybody needs a little inspiration every once a while, don't you think. Yesterday I read this great article about Breast Cancer Fund's mountain climbing fundraiser. Mountain climbing fundraiser?, you might ask. And yes, they have organized 6 climbs around the globe since 1995. The climbs help raise money for the cause and also provide breast cancer survivors and their supporters with an amazing opportunity. Mt. Rainier was the location for the most recent climb and nearly 40 women attempted that climb together. Inspirational, huh? Read more here.

The Texas Legislature Did What?

In what can only be termed as bizarre, the Texas House managed to defeat HB 2, the so-called Education plan, and HB 3, the tax proposal (think tax cuts for the rich). I really thought that we were going to end up with some horrible plan that increased taxes on people with lower incomes without providing schools with better funding. Imagine my surprise and delight when those two proposals seemed to self-destruct yesterday! Maybe now our legislators can get it done the right way instead of the interest groups' way.

Check out the Statesman article on this, and pay close attention to Craddick as he tries to sound like he understood why this happened, "school superintendents beat people up on this." (Um, don't they just want to be able to pay teachers and buy books and, as bizarre as it may sound, EDUCATE students!) But my favorite Craddick quote was "the members are tired; they do not know where they are going," as if none of us couldn't figure that out after every other special session failed to fix our schools.


Did They Get Anything Done?

Okay, I don't know about you, but I actually expected the legislature to get something done during their special session. But the session ended at midnight with no education reforms or property tax cuts. You have to wonder, what exactly were they doing for the past 30 days? Apparently there was some voting on eminent domain and telecom, 'cause you know property rights and cheaper cable is sooo much more important than EDUCATING OUR STATE'S CHILDREN!

Of course, if you took a close look at the "education" bill the House was so proud of, you'd realize that it's not really an education bill. It's a tax cut disguised as an education bill. And it's not even a tax cut for all citizens of the great state! Oh no, it's only a tax cut if you make over $140,000 a year AND own your own home. I don't even come close to belonging in either one of those categories. All I'd get is a higher sales tax. And while I am okay with paying higher taxes so that education gets more money, I'd really only be paying higher taxes so that education gets the same amount of money as the wealthier citizens of this state get to hold on to their stash of cash.

I really can't decide which is more sad: the legislature not considering a real education reform bill or the legislature not being able to pass a bill in 30 days. Read more about it here.

What Does Roberts Stand For?

Two days ago President Bush nominated John G. Roberts to the Supreme Court. Roberts is to fill the vacany left by the retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. Justice O'Connor was the swing vote on many crucial Supreme Court decisions that protected civil rights, the separation of church and state, the environment, and a woman's right to choose. Roberts is a conservative whose succesful confirmation could change the balance of the court. While working for Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, he helped craft legal policies that sought to weaken school desegregation efforts, the reproductive rights of women, environmental protections, church-state separation, and the voting rights of African Americans. In 1991, he argued before the Supreme Court stating that Roe v. Wade was "wrongly decided and should be overruled." In 2003, when he was nominated for the U.S. Court of Appeals, Roberts stated that "the positions a lawyer presents on behalf of a client should not be ascribed to that lawyer," without really clarifying what his positions were. And he has had little time on the Court of Appeals for those positions to become known. The Bush administration has a proven record of selecting ideologically-driven, divisive candidates for the bench, and Judge Roberts's views are probably well-known to the President, if not to the American people. It is the responsibility of our Senators to make sure that those beliefs are known to all before any confirmation vote takes place.

Read more about Roberts here.


Crawford's Post Is Now Official

Yes, it's true. Over five months after he was nominated, Lester M. Crawford is now the permanent head of the Food & Drug Administration. And what was really interesting about this contentious nomination was that Crawford faced opposition from both the right and left. Now, I don't pretend that I have all of the facts in the matter, however during Crawford's leadership it seems that on certain issues (ahem, Plan B, ahem) the FDA has been guided more by politics than by science. Here's hoping that in the future the agency will demonstrate its independence from the administration and an adherence to scientific facts not wished-for political truths. And on a more specific note, here's hoping that Crawford won't reneg on the deal that caused Senators Murray and Clinton to remove their holds from his nomination and that we will have a decision on Plan B by September 1 (a "mere" 7 months after the decision was due). Read the full article here.

Is "the Man" Keeping An Eye on You?

Being that I didn't experience the early civil rights, women's rights, and environmental rights movements, I never really understood the concept of the "the man" keeping you down, or spying on you, or anything like that. To me those words conjure up movies with a wacky old radical who doesn't know that the fight is over. But you know what, it turns out that wacky old radical just might be right-- the fight isn't over! The FBI is still keeping tabs on the political activities of several activist groups, including the ACLU, Greenpeace, and United for Peace and Justice (all groups that are critical of the current administration's policies). See the full article here. In some ways I feel like I've stepped into a time machine.

However, with he new measures (and mandates) provided our law enforcement agencies to fight the "war on terror", this new encroachment on our civil liberties has a very modern feel to it. I want our citizenry to be safe. And I've had to think about how much can/should we sacrifice to provide that safety. My answer: less than we already have.

It brings to mind the Benjamin Franklin quote that is so often used today "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."


Government Misinformation . . . Again

Yet again, it appears that politics is getting in the way of providing the public with information. Yep, the Bush administration's website www.4parents.gov is chockful of misinformation about condoms, sexual orientation, single-parent households, and the dangers of oral sex. They also failed to talk about things like the dangers of underage drinking. (Read more here.) I know that the Bush administration would like certain things to be true, but are they really willing to endanger our teenagers just to prop up their beliefs?

I am so fed up with the government trying to turn ideals into scientific facts. First we all have to tell women that abortion will give them breast cancer! And now we're telling parents that oral sex has become rampant among 12 and 13 year olds and that there is something wrong with single parents or gays?!? What, are we trying to scare the bejesus out of parents and cause even more confusion in teenagers? Please, facts are facts and just wanting something to be true is not enough to make it so.


A 50/50 Split: Imagine That!

The teenage pregnancy rate has dropped in Texas and, in fact, teen pregnancy rates have dropped in our country as a whole. Why?, you might ask. Well, apparently delays in sexual activity (abstinence) accounts for half of the decrease, while the other half is attributed to better contraceptive use. Imagine that! It would appear that comprehensive sex ed would be the very best way to reduce teen pregnancies. So, go ahead, tell them that abstinence is safest, but also give them info about birth control, PLEASE!

And, while the rate has dropped in Texas, it is still higher than in every other state except for Mississippi. (Read the full article here.) What does that tell us? Maybe that abstinence-only sex ed isn't getting the job done! Yes, some schools choose to teach "abstinence-plus", but they aren't required to. They are only required to teach abstinence and so obviously we are not enjoying the full drop in the teen pregnancy rate that teaching comprehensive sex ed would bring us. And who are we hurting? Texas teens! Isn't it about time we stopped teaching our children based on ideology?


The Midwives Tale

Picture a world divided: Midwives claiming the doctors as enemies trying to steal their deliveries; doctors claiming that they only tried to provide oversight that was rejected. What will happen? Will we have dictatorial doctors or will the midwives lure women away from the safety of the hospital? Stay tuned to see the conclusion of this gripping drama. Now, seriously, the lack of a midwife program at Brack and Seton does bother me (read the article here).

Personally, if I were to have kids, I think I'd want all the pain meds and assistance I could get. (Hey, I was the girl who started crying before the doctor even said the word "shot"!) But, I went to a midwife for my first pelvic. And my experience was 10 times better than that of my friends who saw a pediatrician or GP their first time out. Women deserve to be able to choose between a midwife or a doctor, and hospitals or insurance providers really shouldn't make that choice impossible.

Now as to the why behind Seton and Brack closing their midwife programs, I couldn't really say which side is more right. However, historically, as more men became doctors (and doctor became a profession) there was a concerted effort to push midwives and other alternative healers out of the healthcare business.


Happy 16th Birthday, Son!

Okay, when you're thinking about that perfect gift for a 16 year old boy, what do you think of? Perhaps a video game, something computer-related, some type of sporting equipment, maybe tickets to a professional sports event, or (if you're really well off) a used car. But how many of us think "yeah, stripper sounds like fun! Junior'll really like that."

A couple in Tennessee threw their son a birthday party, and the surprise for him and his teenage guests was, you guessed it, a STRIPPER! And not only did they hire the stripper, they took pictures! So now they're pleading guilty to contributing to the deliquency of a minor and taking parenting classes. My fave was Mom's statement that they were just trying to do something nice for their son and that they "even had Grandpa there." Read the full article here.

And when we teach boys at such a young age that women are merely sexual objects, why are we surprised by how they treat girls their own age?

Skipping Health

According to a recent Kaiser survey, 25% of women have skipped doctor visits or not bought prescribed medicine because they couldn't afford it. Over 67% had not talked to their doctors about their sexual history, STDs, and HIV/AIDS with 45% not talking to their doctors about diet, exercise, or nutrition. (Check out the full article here.) That makes me wonder, what are they talking about?

The answer: MONEY. The most frequent conversation women have with their doctors is about paying for care. Health care costs are so out of control in this country. And if women skip doctor visits or don't buy necessary medication when they know they need it, what does that say about preventative care and the probability of catching a disease before it becomes life threatening?


Random Rant

Okay, what is up with the religious right and the supreme court nomination? All I'm reading about in the news is maybe the AG, Alberto Gonzales, isn't conservative ENOUGH?!?!? Not conservative enough? What is he then? And Bush is telling them not to pick on the AG while other conservatives are urging them to tone down their rhetoric during the nomination debates and it's just getting crazy. All I can come back to is, not conservative ENOUGH?

What, are they waiting for a candidate who will interpret laws based on the bible as opposed to the U.S. Constitution? Oh, DAMN!, I bet they are.

Imagine that! Men & women AREN'T the same

A study just came out recently that tested whether or not vitamin E and low dose aspirin prevents cancer in women and basically, they don't. (Check out the article here.) The purpose of the study was to see if these disease prevention techniques that work with men will also work with women. And, guess what?, they DO NOT work the same in women as in men.

See, most drug trials are performed with male subjects. However, the effectiveness and possible side effects (or lack thereof) that are observed are then applied to the population as a whole. This can be pretty dangerous when drugs might have different effects or interactions in women. And this article helps to strengthen the case that pharmaceutical trials MUST include female subjects in order for a woman's best health strategy to be accurately identified.


And It Wasn't Rehnquist

There has been rampant speculation the past several months about the retirement of one of the Supreme Court justices. And today it finally happened. However, it wasn't Rehnquist as most people thought; it was Sandra Day O'Connor-- the first woman ever appointed to the Court. O'Connor was a swing vote on many important decisions in the past and the appointment of her successor could radically change the make up of the Court. Many decisions like those protecting abortion , civil rights, the separation of church and state, and the environment were dependent on O'Connor's support. Thinking about Bush replacing O'Connor is scarier than the thought of him replacing Rehnquist and the expected nomination battle is that much more important! Check out the full article here.