In this must-watch segment, Rachel Maddow reports on the terrible situation in Texas’s far south Rio Grand Valley thanks to the state’s devastating cuts to reproductive health care.
The region near the Mexican border is extremely poor (the two biggest cities there are the two poorest in the entire country) and extremely remote (San Antonio is 250 miles away)–which is basically a recipe for health disparities to begin with. And when the Texas legislature unconscionably slashed funding for reproductive health clinics by two thirds a few years ago, the Rio Grande Valley was hit hard. By decreasing access to birth control, it’s estimated that the cuts caused 30,000 more unintended pregnancies. One fourth of the family planning clinics in the Rio Grande Valley–nine total–were forced to shut down. (And these were clinics that didn’t even provide abortions.)
As we’ve covered before, more folks in the region are turning to black market abortion pills to end their pregnancies. And one doctor, Lester Minto, who was forced to stop providing abortion himself due to the anti-choice regulations passed last year, has keep his door open to treat patients who have complications after they self-induce. But, as Maddow reports, he’s finally been forced to close his clinic entirely. “I’d a whole lot rather be helping women,” he said, “but Texas has made it impossible.”
It’s a bad situation, but it’s wonderful to see how laid-off clinic workers are volunteering their time to continue to provide information about birth control and reproductive health to the women in the community–empowering and politicizing them in the process.
Maya Dusenbery is an Executive Director of Feministing.