Dear Senator Cruz,
As a constituent from Texas, I received your latest email touting the recent amicus brief you filed with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of Texas House Bill 2. You described H.B. 2 as an effort “to defend commonsense safety standards,” “to enact medical protections for women,” and “to protect the sanctity of life and the health of women.”
Let’s talk some more about protecting women’s health and their sacred lives.
I wrote to you some months ago about your misguided efforts to defund Planned Parenthood. I wish you would understand that Planned Parenthood is an organization dedicated to promoting the health of women, men and families. Cancer screenings, contraception, pre-natal care, education … Planned Parenthood has been on the front lines for years doing much needed work for our neighbors. We taxpayers pitch in just a small amount to help fund these efforts through the Medicaid program. But you and other hysterical Republicans have been doing your best to erode these crucial medical protections for women by attacking Planned Parenthood.
This is wrong. And it is wrongheaded.
NBC News recently reported on some of the effects of decreasing the funding for Planned Parenthood in Texas. A team of researchers at the University of Texas at Austin has documented that access to contraception is down and consequently births are up.
“The U.S. continues to have higher rates of unintended pregnancies than most rich nations, and we know that U.S. and Texas women face barriers as they try to access preventative services,” researcher Amanda Stevenson said. “It’s a public health issue that Texas women struggle to achieve their reproductive goals.”
Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said:
“This new research shows the devastating consequences for women when politicians block access to care at Planned Parenthood. Politicians have claimed time and again that our patients can simply go to other health care providers — and tragically that’s not the case. Instead, women were left out in the cold.”
So your “pro-life” amicus brief (your term) is actually advocating against the good health and the real lives of Texas women.
Senator Cruz, I realize you have been an opponent of Planned Parenthood because of its work to provide safe abortions. I have written about the evolution of my own thinking on what it means to be pro-life and pro-choice. I’m grateful that I finally grew into a larger, more compassionate way of being in the world when I outgrew the Fundamentalism of my childhood. Now I am committed to supporting the sacred lives of women across a broad spectrum of challenges within this society. Please open up your mind and join me. A dogmatic tunnel vision about abortion does not serve well the many different people who live in this diverse nation of ours.
I understand people’s discomfort with abortion; I’ve been there.
But the fact is abortion is legal in our nation. It is the right and responsibility of a woman, her family and her doctor to make these intimate, personal decisions. It is not your responsibility nor is it the government’s right to interfere.
Yes, it is appropriate to ensure safe and sanitary practices in all our medical clinics. “Commonsense safely standards” make sense to any reasonable person, but most reasonable persons can see through your thinly disguised efforts: we recognize that what you are really doing is working hard to shut down these critical, LEGAL clinics entirely.
There were many of us who were very grateful when the Supreme Court stayed the full implementation of House Bill 2 last summer. When the Court hears Whole Women’s Health v. Cole in March of this year, I pray they will see through the manipulated code language you and others use to obscure facts and twist truth about what it means to really provide medical protections for women. I hope the Supreme Court Justices will provide justice and rule in favor of the women of Texas who definitely need to be protected from the (mostly) male Texas legislators and their father-knows-best arrogance.
There is another area where women’s sacred lives are threatened: women need society’s protection from domestic violence and from gun violence.
Senator Cruz, where are your passionate efforts to ensure “commonsense safely standards” that would regulate guns and gun ownership and thus protect the health and sanctity of the lives of women?
Since the landmark Violence Against Women Act was passed in 1994, annual rates of domestic violence have plummeted by 64 percent. But still today, an average of three women are killed every day. More often than not, women are shot. Over half of all women killed by intimate partners between 2001 to 2012 were killed using a gun.
The annual report from the Violence Policy Center documents the ongoing tragedy of epidemic homicides of the women of our nation. Surely this very real problem demands that you be active to “protect the sanctity of life and the health of women” who are threatened with gun violence. Surely you should be on the front lines advocating for “commonsense safely standards.”
I ask you, Senator Cruz, where is your outrage? Where is your leadership?
It is wrong for you to remain silent in the face of such a national crisis for women. It is wrongheaded for you to pretend one kind of danger to women, children and families is more critical than these other dangers. I challenge you to live into the full truth of what it means “to protect the sanctity of life and the health of women.”
Rev. Charlotte Vaughan Coyle
Charlotte Vaughan Coyle lives in Paris TX and blogs about intersections of faith, culture and politics on her website and Intersections Facebook page. She frequently shares her thoughts with Coffee Party USA as a regular volunteer.