The Lone Star State, Texas to those maybe not cognizant of the various monikers given American states, reached a nadir on Wednesday, 1st August 2021 with not just the suppression of voting rights but the introduction of two new laws:
~ House Bill 1927 – constitutional carry which means anyone over the age of 21, without license or training or even a background check may openly carry a handgun. The Wild West has returned. There is a proviso – that any person convicted of a felony, assault, terrorist threat or domestic violence is not covered by this new law. The question begging to be asked is, if there is no background check how does a vendor know if a potential buyer is a felon?
~ Senate Bill 8 – an abortion ban from six weeks, which means a woman, who may not even know she is pregnant, may not terminate a pregnancy even in cases of rape or incest. The law stipulates a fetal heartbeat is heard at six weeks, however doctors say, and lawyers agree, embryos do not have a heart at such an early developmental stage. A return to backstreet butchers. Theoretically a man convicted of domestic violence could threaten a woman with a gun bought without a background check, rape and impregnate her, and that woman would have no medical redress.
Even more concerning is the gutless manner in which this law has been written, encouraging everyday like-minded citizens with an incentive of $10,000 to sue any person who ‘aids or abets’ an abortion. This includes a concerned relative who might have provided funds, a cab driver taking a girl or woman to a clinic and so the list goes on. A person may sue even if there is no connection to the girl or woman having an abortion, or the provider. The Supreme Court, weighted heavy on the Republican side has, in an unsigned ruling allowed the law to go into effect. President Biden is not impressed.
As far as shootings are concerned, there has been a 14% increase in Texas this year – that’s not including suicides. That increase translates into approximately 3,200 shootings. How in God’s name are the police, who are against this constitutional carry law, meant to know who is the good guy and who is the madman? An astounding 59% of Texans, including law enforcement officers, oppose this Bill, however 56% of Republicans support it. The public, it seems, is becoming inured to shootings, considered mass when there are four or more victims – think Odessa and El Paso where 30 people were murdered and dozens wounded.
It is a tragic fact that whilst the international light is shone on the horrors of rape in places like India, which whilst developing is still considered a Third World Country, there are still people in the so-called developed world who feel the need to force themselves on a girl or woman, and sometimes a man. Too many rapes go unreported, often due to the ineptitude and lack of empathy shown by the authorities, and fear of repercussions.
But here’s the thing. India has, under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, allowed abortion in some instances since 1973 (the same year as Roe v Wade) – and in 2003 that Act was amended to give women access to safe and legal abortion services. If India, a culturally misogynistic society, can pass such legislation why are there swathes of America, now lead by Texas, who hold such antediluvian and ruthless views on women’s health – both physical and mental?
I have lived in the disunited states since 1997 and, whilst I shook my head at some of the 19th century views held by some in the 21st century, and railed at the lack of gun legislation and the fear-mongering that came with every attempt to curb loopholes in existing gun laws, I respected the Second Amendment even if it had been ratified in 1791 by a group of privileged white men.
However, with the emergence of Trumpism and the splintering of any level of civility, a break down in society still fomented by the former president, those with radical right-wing views have emerged as a vociferous and often violent cabal of men eager to push women back into the dark ages. But what, to my mind, is even more disturbing are the number of women keen to be put back into the kitchens, both metaphorically and literally in the case of seeking an abortion.
Abortion is not, and I doubt has ever been, a decision taken lightly by many women and to suggest it is a form of birth control is disingenuous and offensive. Particularly when taken in conjunction with the lack of sensible and timely sex education in a state that promulgates the teaching of abstinence.
Here’s a shocking fact gleaned from the World Health Organization. As maternal mortality declines around the world – even in India – it has been increasing in the United States since 2000. America has the distinction of ranking alongside the Dominican Republic as being one of two countries with that tragic statistic.
It makes me wonder if the quartet of middle-aged, white men who lead the Lone Star State – Abbott, Patrick, Paxton and Cruz – spurred on by deeply conservative voices, have between them an ounce of compassion let alone a modicum of intelligence, native or otherwise. I can’t help but wonder if these politicians, and this might shock some readers, are so focused on their own self-aggrandizement and political future that they have lost sight of what is right: the right to bear arms being sensibly regulated; the right for women to be responsible for their bodies, their health and well-being. With this new law and the closure of women’s clinics will come even less access to women’s basic health – pap smears, mammograms, birth control.
Guns rule and the yellow rose of Texas has lost its bloom!