Remember that time the Texas Department of State Health Services was all, “Hi, Tea Party Republican Rep. Bill Zedler, is there anything we can do for you in terms of passing unnecessary and invasive abortion reporting requirements meant to intimidate doctors and abortion-seekers in Texas?” and Bill Zedler was all, “Oh, I’m so glad you asked, because I have been trying to get the Texas Legislature to pass these unnecessary and invasive abortion reporting requirements for several years, to no avail, so if you could just put them into statute anyway, that would be great!”
And then that is what happened? It is still happening.
The reporting requirements are chugging through the bureaucratic approval process, but there is time for hell-raising between now and (what will probably be) September, when the Health and Human Services Council (it’s different than the DSHS council and also has to approve the rules) will decide whether to adopt these new rules.
Here’s what’s heartening: yesterday, Houston Sen. Jose Rodriguez became the FIRST EVER TEXAS LEGISLATOR to speak publicly about the rules–including Bill Zedler hisownself. So far, activists and doctors have been unable to sway DSHS into amending any of these rules to address their concerns; DSHS just keeps toeing the line for Zedler. If more pro-choice legislators put pressure on DSHS/HHSC, it may get their attention. As it is now, the departments clearly feel beholden to absolutely no one besides Bill Zedler.
You don’t have to be pro-choice to be pro-democracy; neither do your political representatives. So here’s what you can do: send an e-mail to your representative and tell them to be a voice for democracy at DSHS and the HHSC. Because what’s happening now isn’t democracy. It’s one Tea Party Republican throwing a fit until somebody gives him what he wants.
A sample letter that can be sent to your representative is after the jump.
Step 1: Find your representative.
Step 2: Fill in this letter with your individual details:
Subject: Do Texas’ Health Policy Bureaucrats Think They’re Above Democracy?
Dear [Your Representative’s Name Here],
My name is [Your Name] and I live at [Your Address.] I’m writing as one of your constituents to ask you to help me make my voice heard at the Department of State Health Services and Texas Health And Human Services Commission. I believe these agencies are on track to enact new abortion reporting requirements at the behest of one individual legislator, and to me, that doesn’t feel like democracy at all.
These new requirements are intended to make abortion more difficult to provide and harder to access for the Texas doctors who have a legal right to provide the procedure and Texas women who have a legal right to undergo it. They include gathering unsettling and unnecessary information about women who seek abortion and vague and redundant “complication” reporting requirements for individual physicians–solely because one conservative politician, Rep. Bill Zedler of Arlington, has asked them to do so. The new proposed rules are DSHS and HHSC’s attempts at putting into statute that which Zedler’s proposed legislation could not put into law with his proposed, but failed, HB 1602 (82nd Legislature) and HB 1131 (80th Legislature), as well as the unattached Zedler amendment to SB7 in 2011.
Most disturbingly, throughout the public comment period that opened on this matter in April, DSHS has as yet been unable or unwilling to identify any existing problems that these new requirements solve, or give any reasoning for their inception beyond admitting that they are a direct response to Bill Zedler’s personal desire to see his own anti-woman, anti-choice beliefs put into legal statute by any means necessary.
The good news is that we have a chance to show Bill Zedler that his voice is not more important than that of the hundreds of other Texas legislators–even conservative, pro-life legislators–who have repeatedly refused to vote his bills and amendments into law, because the HHSC council has not yet met to discuss the new requirements.
Please help me tell both DSHS and HHSC that they are subverting Texas’ critical democratic process by bending to the wishes of one individual legislator. I’m asking you to contact Amy Harper (firstname.lastname@example.org), Ellen Cooper (email@example.com), Kathy Perkins (firstname.lastname@example.org), HHSC Deputy Executive Commissioner Dr. Mark Chassey (512-424-6936) or Deputy Executive Commissioner Billy Millwee (512-491-1867) and urge these public servants to respect democracy by withdrawing the proposed rule changes to Texas Administrative Code Sections 139.4 and 139.5.
Thank you for your time,
Step 3: Press send.