Texas women are at risk. Too many politicians have played fast and loose with women’s health for too long.
When most people hear about how a politician is bad for women, they immediately think it means the politician is anti-choice. It’s a broken framework, which glosses over how there are many politicians in both parties (and of both genders) whose votes hurt women time and again. In most instances, these votes have nothing to do with reproductive health.
It’s the case with State Representative Dwayne Bohac (R – Houston). Bohac has voted against mandates designed to stop the spread of cervical cancer, and separately has voted to cut healthcare funds and state-sponsored research, which has driven up the rates of maternal mortality.
The human papillomavirus (HPV) is a sexually transmitted disease affecting most women in their late teens and early 20s. This virus can be prevented with the HPV vaccine, which can be issued to young girls beginning at the age of nine.
HPV affects 79 million Americans, which led Governor Rick Perry to issue an executive order requiring girls entering 6th grade to receive the HPV vaccine. However, despite the 56 percent decrease of HPV since the vaccine’s introduction, Dwayne Bohac voted in favor of HB 1098, a bill overturning Governor Perry’s executive order, and undoing the HPV vaccine requirement.
Texas ranks among the worst states for maternal mortality and low overall for women’s health. Worse, it is likely with better medical care for mothers, half of childbirth related deaths could have been prevented.
These aren’t new problems, or news to policy makers – advocates have been trying to address these problems for years. Politicians like Dwayne Bohac ignore real solutions. They vote to pass legislation to study the problem – SB 17 – while the healthcare cuts they supported, and restorations they oppose, have forced clinics and hospitals across the state, especially in rural Texas, to close.
Texans have long known of these problems and further “study” is not needed. Instead, we need action. Dwayne Bohac’s casual approach to women’s health needs to change. Texans need to demand policymakers like Bohac do more than study women’s health – we need them to fund and organize solutions.