Texas Tribune

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Health care poll

Today, I came across a poll of likely Texas voters, conducted by the University of Texas and Texas Tribune that said that for Texans, health care is a distant third in importance, behind border security and immigration. This was in contrast with frequent news reports in the last week that an unnamed “recent poll” had found that health care is the number one issue in the 2018 election for voters. That first, UT/TT, poll was more consistent with other recent news coverage and the issues that I keep seeing pop up on Twitter and Facebook.

So I did some research….

It turns out that the first poll (“KFF,” download pdf file,with results) was conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit based in San Francisco, California. In fact, approximately 30% of the respondents listed health care as their number one issue and were designated “Health Care Voters” by pollsters. 70%, designated “non-Health Care Voters,” chose other issues, including the economy and jobs (21%).

The demographics of those polled were heavily slanted toward Democrats, with registered Democrats and “Independents” who are identified as “Independent Lean Democrat” adding up to 68% of the “Healthcare Voters.” “Non-Health Care Voters” came in at 49% Republican or “Independent Leans Republican.”

While KFF is considered one of the “Least Biased” polling bodies, they are still subject to sampling errors. It appears that this might be one of those times.

Comments are disabled. Comment on my Facebook page, please.

Honk if you love pizza and abortion!

​Perfect pro-abortion slogan: “Honk if you love pizza and abortion!”

Because, equivalent, yes? And illogically proud of it – see the young woman in the left lower quadrant. That sign certainly is evidence that “reproductive rights” advocates are, indeed, “pro-abortion.” 

The Texas Tribune is providing its usual biased coverage of the Texas Legislature. The editors allowed the banality of a pro-abortion sign equating the love of abortion and pizza to creep into their report on the fears of the groups who make a profit from ending the lives of the most vulnerable humans and their advocates. 

There’s no logic in claiming that an abortion doesn’t end the life of a human. With current science and technology, it’s anti-science to make such a claim. Proponents of elective abortion deny that every human is endowed with inalienable rights. Instead, they defend the falsehoods that embryos and fetuses are less than human and definitely not human-enough to possess inalienable human rights. 

As to the complaints about insurance coverage for abortion? It’s called, “Elective abortion.” Insurance shouldn’t pay for “elective” procedures. And seriously: “a rider” to pay for elective abortion?  How fiscally responsible is that?  

“Heart” if you (heart) graphic proof of illogic and irresponsibility

Texas’ Women’s Health, UT Study: Other than that*, the story was true.

*The authors of a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine admit to a narrow focus that ignored the multiple methods of funding Family Planning in Texas,  looking instead at a single type of “provider” – Title X clinics like Planned Parenthood (“PP”) – and a single source of funding for a specific set of services: long-acting reversible contraceptives such as the IUD and implants and injectables.

Yet, in typical fashion, the reports about the study claim much more. For example, the Texas Tribune has an article out, “Texas disavows Controversial Women’s Health Study,”  about the political fallout due to the skewed conclusions of the authors and the even more skewed editorializing in the media.

While the NEJM article (free article!) states in the “Methods” section that,

“After the exclusion, the provision of injectable contraceptives fell sharply in counties with Planned Parenthood affiliates but not in counties without such affiliates; subsequently, the numbers of claims in both groups of counties remained relatively stable during the next 2 years. In contrast, the provision of short-acting hormonal methods changed little in the two groups of counties in the quarter after the exclusion and declined steadily thereafter.” (Emphasis mine. )

the Tribune article reports that in answer to criticism,

Joseph Potter, one of the UT researchers who co-authored the study, said in an email that the paper addressed the “specific question” of how the exclusion of Planned Parenthood from the Texas Women’s Health Program affected women. Nothing raised in Traylor’s letter, he said, contradicted the researchers’ conclusions.

“We made no claims about access to reproductive health care as a whole in Texas,” he said, and he stood by the finding that claims for long-acting contraceptives fell after Planned Parenthood was excluded from the women’s health program.

The law in question, SB7, was passed with bipartisan support in 2011, a year when Texas, along with State budgets all over the Nation were tight. Although family planning was cut, no specific vendor was “excluded” and PP was not even mentioned in the legislation. Only because PP did not offer continuing, comprehensive care, that business would effectively be cut out.

The Obama Administration took great offense at our State’s attempt to take care of the whole woman and refused all Family Planning Title X money for Texas Medicaid.

Instead, Obama intervened to specifically direct $13 Million of Title X funds to a private organization,the Women’s Health and Family Planning Association of Texas (“WHFP”) which funds only Title X clinics, almost all of which are now Planned Parenthood businesses), so no money was lost even at PP.

The State Health Services no longer managed those Medicaid matching dollars once allowed by a special Medicaid waiver. Instead, State funding for the Family Planning programs and the Texas Women’s Health Program, was replaced by State dollars and directed toward programs and doctors that offer continuing, comprehensive care, such as Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC), State, County and local clinics and hospitals, and fee for service doctors that participate with Medicaid. Women could be diagnosed and treated for a much broader spectrum of health problems and their families were welcome at the same clinics.

Senator Jane Nelson, Chair of the Senate Finance Committee and sponsor of the Bill, objects to the implication by the NEJM that the authors were writing on behalf of the State. In her letter to the Executive Commissioner of Texas’ Department of Health and Human Services, Chris Traynor, Senator Nelson noted,

“This study samples a narrow population within the Texas Women’s Health Program (TWHP) — which represented only 33 percent of the overall number of women enrolled in our women’s health programs in Fiscal Year (FY) 2014. This ignores hundreds of thousands of women being served through the Expanded Primary Health Care Program; the Family Planning Program; and the 628,000 women of child-bearing age receiving full Medicaid benefits, 75 percent of which received contraceptive services in FY 14. Women often rotate in and out of our state programs, so we must look across our entire system to determine whether we are truly meeting their needs. Just because a claim for service was not submitted to TWHP does not mean a woman went without that service.
The study also creates an impression that fewer Texas women are accessing long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs). That’s simply not true. Across our state programs, there were more claims for LARCs in FY 2014 than there were in FY 2012 when Planned Parenthood was still a provider.”

In other words, women with private insurance and women who never had access to PP had similar numbers.

And another thing: Potter, a sociologist at UTAustin and the co-author quoted above, was the one who told the LA Times that,  “It’s not like there is a large, over-capacity of highly qualified providers of effective contraception out there just waiting for people to show up.”

On behalf of Texas’ Family Physicians, OB/Gyns, Pediatricians and Internists who accept traditional Medicaid and who had been unable to access the money in those competitive Title X grants awarded to PP, I’d like to inform him that yes, we have been waiting – for a chance to offer our patients this care.

But other than that ….

2/3 Texans support ban on abortion after 20 weeks

They also found that the majority of Texas voters would support restrictions on abortion that are greater than those we have today.

The University of Texas and the Texas Tribune have published the results of a poll that included questions about voters’ opinions on abortion. The poll of registered voters in Texas, recruited by an organization called “YouPoll.”

Q37. What is your opinion on the availability of abortion?

1.    By law, abortion should never be permitted.                         16%
2.     The law should permit abortion only in case of
rape, incest or when the woman’s life is in danger.                     30
3.     The law should permit abortion for reasons other than rape, incest, or danger to the woman’s life, but only after the need for the abortion has been clearly established.                     13
4.     By law, a woman should always be able to obtain
an abortion as a matter of personal choice.                                    36
5.    Don’t know                                                                                               5

Q38. Do you think that laws restricting abortion here in Texas should be made more strict, less strict, or left as they are now?
1.   More strict                                                        38%
2.   Less strict                                                         26
3.   Left as they are now                                    21
4.   Don’t know/no opinion                              14

By answering “3. The law should permit abortion for reasons other than rape, incest, or danger to the woman’s life, but only after the need for the abortion has been clearly established,” the respondents would actually support laws that are much more restrictive than current law.  However, it’s being reported as though current law requires a need to be established, and to match the answers in Q38.

2/3 of those polled  support for a ban on abortion after 20 weeks, whether or not the abortion causes pain to the fetus. The poll asked half of those polled one question and half another, with very similar results:


a.   Prohibiting abortions after 20 weeks based on the argument that a fetus can feel pain at that point.

  1. Strongly support               49%    
  2. Somewhat support            13        
  3. Somewhat oppose               8        
  4. Strongly oppose                 19        
  5. Don’t know                         11

b.   Prohibiting abortions after 20 weeks.
1.   Strongly support                            47%
2.   Somewhat support                        15
3.   Somewhat oppose                         8
4.   Strongly oppose                             22
5.   Don’t know                                     9

Rather than reflecting people’s knowledge that 20 weeks – or 5 months – is very close to our current viability of 22-23 weeks, I believe that the responses reflect our conflicted and complicated feelings about abortion in general.

I’m quoted on Abortion and Breast Cancer Risk

Several media outlets sort of quoted my testimony against HB 2945 in the Texas State House Affairs Committee on Wednesday. However, they proved Mark Twain’s assertion that there are “lies, damned lies, and statistics.”

In my testimony against HB 2945, I also pointed to the National Cancer Institute’s webpage, “Reproductive History and Breast Cancer Risk,” which outlines the protective effect of pregnancy. After all, the only women and girls receiving this information are pregnant women and girls!

Unfortunately, Representative Farrar focused on the “peer review” status of the Mabye article (“Did it go through the Medline or PubMed?”), ignoring the NCI data.

In that (yes, Jessica, it’s “peer reviewed”) New England Journal of Medicine article, the authors note that, while their study found no increased risk overall, there is a protective effect of pregnancy and an increased risk for some women: “Induced abortion had no overall effect on the risk of breast cancer, but we found a statistically significant increase in risk among women with a history of second-trimester abortion.” This was a small number of cases, but it was also in spite of the authors’ acknowledging that unknown thousands of unrecorded abortions ( those before 1973 computerization of records) were probably not accounted for.

From the Texas Tribune:

Dr. Beverly Nuckols, a family doctor from New Braunfels and board member of Texas Alliance for Life, testified against the bill. She cited a study published by the New England Journal of Medicine in 1997 that showed pregnancy decreases the risk of breast cancer.

“No one would prescribe pregnancy to prevent breast cancer,” Nuckols said. “We’re just letting them know that if they have a risk factor in their family, this pregnancy may cut their risk of breast cancer in half.”

via House Panel Debates Changes to Booklet on Abortion | The Texas Tribune.


Austin Chronicle, “A Woman’s Right to Know the Truth”

Ted Cruz Debates Dan Patrick (#TxSen)

“Every time I go on the radio, you ask the questions that the Dewhurst campaign want you to ask.”

This, from the guy who got caught red-handed trying to influence debate questions by a fellow candidate in order to team up against Lt. Governor Dewhurst!

Listen to the radio confrontation between Ted Cruz and Texas Senator Dan Patrick on Patrick’s “The Bell and Patrick” radio show, for yourself:

Mr. Cruz argued with Patrick for 30 minutes on the Baker and Patrick Radio Show that airs on KSEV  radio in the Houston area at 4 PM, week days. He unfortunately began with the flat statement that Senator Patrick had endorsed Dewhurst in the Senate race. You would think that a man would know that sort of thing, right? As Patrick said, if he’d done so, it would be public knowledge.

Cruz actually claimed that all Republicans and Democrats play a “game” with legislation they don’t want to pass, by entering into a conspiracy to pass a bill in one chamber in Session, and then in the other the next, but cheat to keep them from passing to law.

Senator Patrick spent quite a bit of time explaining the complicated workings of the Texas Senate, especially the work on the Sanctuary Cities Bills (SB 29 and HB 41) during last Summer’s Special Session of the 82nd Texas Legislature.

The two discussed the “Rose Bush Rule,” which requires 21 members of the Senate to vote in favor of bringing any issue up for a vote. Patrick reminded Cruz that the Senate members, not the Lieutenant Governor, vote on the rules of the Senate. Patrick also explained that the Lieutenant Governor has the authority to suspend that rule in a Special Session, but not in a Regular Session.

Cruz asked Patrick whether Patrick would have been able to pass Sanctuary Cities if he had been Lt. Governor. Patrick said, “No,” because “the only thing you can do is pass it out of the Senate.” Patrick said that Dewhurst had warned the Democrats in the Regular session that if they blocked the bill in the Regular Session, he would suspend the 21 vote rule in the Special Session. Patrick reported that Dewhurst did suspend the rule as he said, in order to pass the Sanctuary Cities Bill with over two weeks left in the SS and spoke of the frustration of having the Bill sit in Committee in the House.

He also told Cruz that all 19 Republican Senators had met on the issue and decided to pass SB29 as a separate Bill, rather than to try to tack HB41 as an amendment to the School Finance Bill. They were concerned that the school funding bill would be held up, preventing schools from knowing their budget until August.

Cruz ignored Patrick’s admonition to campaign on his own merits and plans, returning again and again to statements about what people “intend,” “know,” or ” believe.” Cruz accused Patrick and others of working against him, assigning underhanded motives to them, such as how much “better” for Patrick it will be to get Dewhurst out of Austin.

The creepiest bit of Cruz’ argument was this line, delivered with a strategic lowering of the voice at the last: “You have been acting as a surrogate for Lt. Gov. Dewhurst and I have seen you do it.”

I’ve described Cruz’ reactions to me when I was still a supporter asking him to cut back on the negative campaigning. At our County forum in February and then in New Braunfels. At the New Braunfels meet, he couldn’t walk away so he engaged me in debate. He kept coming at me for twenty minutes although others had questions.

Here’s a news report about another episode of over-reacting to questioning by another woman in Fort Worth at the RPT convention.

Cruz is not a “fighter” in any good sense of the word. Rather than a champion or defender, he’s a bully and a brawler. When faced with even mild opposition, he goes out of his way to prove the other person absolutely wrong. As Patrick said, he can “make numbers lie,” and has no problem with stretching the truth if it has what he calls “a basis in fact.” He sprinkles his speeches with dramatic descriptions of imagined conspiracies such as the ones above, and the notion that “Austin” Republicans had all agreed to make sure that “no one with a ‘z’ in his name is elected to State-wide office.”

For other summaries of the episode, each with their own twist, see the Houston Chronicle and Texas Tribune. But listen to the actual recording if you want the real story.

Texas Tribune Poll and Informed Texas Voters

Texas Tribune is hyping their poll as proof that there will likely be a run off in both the Republican and Democrat primary races for US Senator. But the big news should be how well informed and politically involved Texas voters appear to be.

It’s not just the disapproval of Obama (58% total and 46% “Disapprove strongly”) or the probable vote for Mitt Romney in the graphic above. Take a look at some of the information gathering questions.

Out of 800 registered Texas voters, 48% are “extremely interested in politics and public affairs. 32% vote in every election and another 35% vote in almost every election.

73% were able to identify the majority party in the US House of Representatives. (I wish they’d cross-checked that with the same question about the Senate.) 69% correctly stated that it takes a 2/3 vote to over turn a presidential veto. And 66% correctly identified Greg Abbott as our Texas Attorney General.

Yes, we’re probably in for a couple of run off elections, and yes,it will get even uglier. But the voters are better informed than I was afraid.

Holder blocks Texas ID Voter law

The Constitution does not mandate that all the big decisions will be made by the Courts and bureaucrats and only the inconsequential will be made by the Legislature.

Wonder how many photo ID’s Holder required in the “Operation Gunwalker” he enabled?

Breaking news this morning (Texas Tribune here, Washington Post story, here)  is that the Obama Administration has refused to allow — under the 1965 Voter’s Rights Act – the implementation of the Texas voter ID law passed by our elected  Legislature last May!

This is overreaching and poor (pointed, result-driven) use of statistics.

How many “Hispanics” don’t have “Spanish surnames?” How many with Spanish surnames don’t consider themselves disadvantaged?

Why is there no mention of the traditional racial minority, African Americans, in so many of the news article quotes from Holder?

I needed a photo ID to pick up a FedEx shipment. I can’t use my credit card without a photo ID. College and High School students get photo ID’s at school.

Good grief, I need a photo ID and to allow a stranger to grope me if I want to go on an airplane.

And last week, at the Nation’s Capitol, I had to submit to scanning to enter any of the Federal buildings!

And I needed that photo ID to check into my hotel.

The Voting Rights Act is 40 years old and was in reaction to the abuses of Democrats. Most of the subsequent 40 years, Democrats held the power in Texas and in the US House and Senate. Why is this considered a Democrat cause? (In my opinion: because they are *not* in power at the moment, at least to the extent they want it.)

Larry and I heard snippets of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Lincoln Memorial Speech, yesterday. The crowd sang, “We shall overcome.”

I wonder whether we will ever get to that point where anyone feels that we have overcome?

Another Soros Service Announcement?

The twits (my all purpose term for people who do dumb things) over at the Soros-funded Texas Tribune have earned the title again. I hate to give them “hit’s,” but that’s where the story is.

TT has an irregular feature they call the “Texplainer” “answering” what are presented as questions from readers. Today, the “Texplainer” popped up at the front of my Google News page with a question about why Governor Perry did not attend last weekend’s National Governor’s Association meeting in Washington, D.C.

The Governor is even said to be “reliably absent.”

Several news agencies, including some of the other UT affiliates, noted the surgery. Some even gleefully reported that the doctor, Bruce Malone, has criticized the Governor’s policies on funding for women’s health programs (definition of women’s health = abortion and contraception).

However, there’s no mention of the Governor’s Friday surgery in the “Texplainer’s” “explanation.” (“Twits” = “Jerks”)

Addendum at 3:20 PM: You can’t make this up! In answer to my comment questioning why there was no mention of the Governor’s Friday surgery, someone posted that one of the TT regulars had written about that subject in full, last Friday.

Enabling vs. Providing “Infrastructure” for Family Planning (and a Map of Government-Funded Family Planning Providers in Texas)

It’s not just right wing, Christian “anti-choicers” (we really prefer to be called “pro-life”) who understand that paying abortion providers and those who refer to them under Medicaid and Title X funds enables them to do abortions. From the Guttmacher Institute:

Title X is a grant program under which funds are distributed to grantees who design and operate their own programs—funding can be targeted to local needs and challenges. Unlike Medicaid, for example, Title X can subsidize the intensive outreach necessary to encourage some individuals to seek services. Furthermore, by paying for everything from staff salaries to utility bills to medical supplies, Title X funds provide the essential infrastructure support that enables clinics to go on and claim Medicaid reimbursement for the clients they serve.

So, whoever receives title X funding is “enabled” to stay in business. In these days of low tax revenues and high demand, shouldn’t Texas only “enable” comprehensive, continuing care?

Unfortunately, Texas representatives of Texas taxpayers found themselves limited in funds this year and we had to prioritize where we allocated Family Planning money. Funding for the Family Planning programs and the Texas Women’s Health Program, which receives Medicaid money, was directed toward programs and doctors that offer continuing, comprehensive care, such as Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC), State, County and local clinics and hospitals, and fee for service doctors that participate with Medicaid.

However, in article after article, the law which sets aside money to pay for contraceptives and never mentions Planned Parenthood, is said to have been a weapon in the war on contraceptives and abortion, and in particular, against Planned Parenthood.

Medicaid is supposed to be a health program for the very poor, but Congress has allowed States some flexibility when it comes to the disabled and to pregnant women, through a system of waivers. Texas began our Women’s Health Program in 2007, asking for a waiver to spend funds to screen women for disease, including high blood pressure, diabetes, and even tuberculosis, not just for STD’s, breast cancer and cervical cancer. The program also pays for the prescription and dispensing of contraception – including Natural Family Planning! – to women who are not pregnant or disabled, and who would not otherwise be eligible for Medicaid.

The Obama Administration’s Department of Health and Human Services has refused this year’s request for a waiver to apportion the funds because of the stipulation that the State’s money will not go to affiliates of those who either perform or refer to elective abortions.

Just to be clear, “elective abortions” mean those that are done because the healthy mother carrying a healthy child seeks an abortion, not those done to prevent damage to her health or save her life. “Elective abortions” don’t even include those done in healthy mothers with healthy babies who were conceived through rape or incest. Procedures to treat tubal or ectopic pregnancies are never considered abortions, either “elective” or medical.

The law, HB 7, passed in the Special Session of the 82nd Legislature does not mention Planned Parenthood or any other abortion provider. The text stresses that our State must prioritize how we are to spend our limited tax dollars:

Sec.531.0025. RESTRICTIONS ON AWARDS TO FAMILY PLANNING SERVICE PROVIDERS. (a)Notwithstanding any other law, money
appropriated to the Department of State Health Services for the purpose of providing family planning services must be awarded:
(1) to eligible entities in the following order of descending priority:
(A) public entities that provide family planning services, including state, county, and local community health clinics and federally qualified health centers;
(B) nonpublic entities that provide comprehensive primary and preventive care services in addition to family planning services; and
(C) nonpublic entities that provide family planning services but do not provide comprehensive primary and preventive care services; or
(2) as otherwise directed by the legislature in the General Appropriations Act.
(b) Notwithstanding Subsection (a), the Department of State Health Services shall, in compliance with federal law, ensure distribution of funds for family planning services in a manner that does not severely limit or eliminate access to those services in any region of the state.

(b) Section 32.024, Human Resources Code, is amended by adding Subsection (c-1) to read as follows:
(c-1) The department shall ensure that money spent for purposes of the demonstration project for women ’s health care services under former Section 32.0248, Human Resources Code, or a similar successor program is not used to perform or promote elective abortions, or to contract with entities that perform or promote elective abortions or affiliate with entities that perform or promote elective abortions.

The Texas Tribune has published a map of family planning clinics in Texas, claiming to point out which clinics will stop receiving taxpayer money in March of this year.

The  In Texas, the Legislature has drastically reduced funding for family planning agencies that serve low-income women statewide. There are 41 agencies that receive funding today, down from 71 last year. Those organizations often operate multiple clinics that provide Texans with contraceptives and disease screenings.

Using the most up-to-date information available through the Texas Department of State Health Services, we have mapped out the locations of government-subsidized family planning clinics in 2010, 2011 and 2012. Not only are there fewer contractors each year, but those that receive grants are getting less money. During the 2011 session, lawmakers redirected virtually all state funds that have traditionally gone to family planning services to other programs. Today, nearly all public funding for these clinics comes from the federal government’s four-decade-old Title X program, which is dedicated to family planning.

via Updated: Map of Government-Funded Family Planning Providers in Texas.

Everyone who would like to support those clinics, should send a donation — because the Texas Legislature won’t meet again until January of 2013 and the law can’t be changed until then.

State Agency Advertising on ‘Net?

Why is a State agency spending our money to advertise on the internet?

I was reading an article in the Texas Tribune, on the latest iteration of the “Golden Rule” (“He who has the gold, makes the rule.”), the imposition of forced tobacco free campuses by the Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas.

While considering the excessive force and high-handedness of the move by CPRIT to use State tax funds to coerce beneficiaries of State tax funds to police the use of a legal substance – tobacco – vs. the fact that this may be the one action by the Institute that prevents the most cancer, I noticed a couple of ads on the page, bearing the seal of the State of Texas.

Sure enough, when I clicked on one, it led me to the Office of Public Insurance Counsel.

Does the State need to be spending our money this way?

Texas media lies about Texas “Sonogram Law”

An article, based on lies, by the Texas Tribune’s Emily Ramshaw was picked up by the New York Times Sunday (January 29th) edition.

The lies are neatly tied up in these two sentences:

” This past fall, doctors were required to start performing a transvaginal sonogram at least 24 hours ahead of an abortion, a shift they say has had frustrating consequences for clinics and patients.”


“Now the physician performing the abortion — not an ultrasound technician, for example, or a secondary doctor — must conduct the sonogram on a separate day.”

(I have a “Google News search” for articles on the Texas Sonogram law, so I get emails as soon as they’re published. These same lies are duplicated in other articles and op-eds, like this one in “The Jurist,” from a law professor at the Saint Louis School of Law.)

Editor-in-Chief, Evan Smith, and Ramshaw at the Texas Tribune must know they’re publishing emotional falsehoods. Even Judge Sam Sparks knew better.

Anyone who has read the text of HB 15 or Judge Sam Spark’s ruling would know that we’ve had a formal informed consent process and a 24 hour waiting period since 2003, that there is no mandate to use a “transvaginal sonogram,” and that “an agent of the physician who is also a sonographer certified by a national registry of medical sonographers” may perform the sonogram. The doctor is required to show the sonogram “images,” to make the heartbeat audible and to describe the development of the embryo or fetus. That the language did not require that the actual, real-time sonogram be conducted by ” the physician performing the abortion” was clear to Judge Sparks. As he said,

     “The net result of these provisions is: (1) a physician is required to say things and take expressive actions with which the physician may not ideologically agree, and which the physician may feel are medically unnecessary; (2) the pregnant woman must not only passively receive this potentially unwanted speech and expression, but must also actively participate—in the best case by simply signing an election form, and in the worst case by disclosing in writing extremely personal, medically irrelevant facts; and (3) the entire experience must be memorialized in records that are,at best, semi-private.”

Still, Ramshaw revealed some truth:

    “. . . a scheduling struggle when doctors providing elective abortions are in short supply and rotate between clinics.

“They’ve had to set aside a whole other day doing ultrasounds, visits that in most parts of medicine would be dedicated to people with less training than a physician,” Hagstrom Miller said. “The effect on their travel schedule, on their reimbursement, on patients’ access to them has been tremendous.”

In the typical elective abortion, there’s rarely any on-going doctor-patient relationship and the real problem is bureaucratic and financial.  The clinic owners are mostly worried about the money and their ability to get doctors to show up for the informed consent and to return the next day to perform the abortion.

And it’s not all about money.  The doctors who “rotate between clinics” usually fly in, sometimes from another state, for “procedure day.” The “Sonogram law” doesn’t force the woman having the abortion to look at her sonogram. But it does force the doctor to spend time counseling the women – possibly more time than the abortion itself will require. They will now have to look the women in the eye and describe the development of the child. How can a doctor “not ideologically agree” with the facts visible on the sonogram when describing the heart or limbs?

Immigration Proposal Not Seen as Major Step —The Texas Tribune

Paging Libertarian Ron Paul: What do you think. Is this a major step? The Obama Admin plans to let people apply for mini-amnesty from this side of the border.

This waiver won’t fit all 11 million (typo in the article says 11.2 total), but 24,000 made this sort of application from their home country last year. Any bets on how quickly fraud will rear up on this scheme?

Current law mandates that illegal immigrants applying for legal status must return to their home country to do so. Once there, they are barred from re-entering the United States for either three or 10 years, depending on the length of their unauthorized stay.

But immigrants can apply for a waiver that allows them re-entry during the process if they can prove that their separation is causing extreme hardship for spouses or parents who are U.S. citizens. The new proposal would allow the applicant to apply for the waiver before leaving the country; if granted, the applicant could return to the U.S. during the visa application process.

via Immigration Proposal Not Seen as Major Step — Immigration | The Texas Tribune.

BTW, read the odd comments about “nuts with machine guts.”

Obama to Texas: Fund PP or no Well Woman money

The Obama Administration has told Texas that our State is not allowed to decide who will provide medical care under Title X Family Planning and Well Woman funds. The Administration has recently ruled in a similar manner for other States. (

This in spite of the fact that the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) did give Texas a waiver allowing Texas to move all Medicaid and CHIP beneficiaries to doctors in managed care plans. The managed care plans, along with cooperative coalitions between hospital systems and the doctors they will pay for seeing managed care patients, is consistent with the plans laid out in “Obamacare.” Evidently, so is Planned Parenthood’s survival.

CMS claims in this letter to Texas’ Health and Human Services Commission that we’re limiting the choices of the women because the State prioritized where to spend our money and who to pay for healthcare, beginning with county clinics and hospital districts, followed by doctors and clinics that provide comprehensive, continuing care. Since we only have so much money, our Legislature decided to support the most vital care givers. Even though we don’t specifically write in law that “Planned Parenthood, Inc., need not apply,” CMS doesn’t like our plan.

CMS was asked to give a “waiver” to Texas since the funding is outside normal Medicaid rules, because it funds care for adults who are not at the rock-bottom income levels. Texas also has a waiver in order to use funds for prenatal care, justified by counting the unborn child. (The pro-aborts have protested over and over that the mother, not her child, should be the one we count and that she should be allowed to use the money for any “reproductive services,” including abortion, that she wants.)

Texas Alliance for Life and Texas Right to Life have both issued statements opposing the CMS ruling.

From Joe Pojman, Ph.D., TAL’s Executive Director:

“We believe the State of Texas has every right to deny millions of tax dollars to Planned Parenthood, which is what the Texas Legislature and Governor Perry has chosen to do,” he said. “Senate Bill 7, passed last summer during a special legislative session, prohibits Medicaid tax dollars under the Women’s Health Program from going to abortion providers and their affiliated organizations.”

“This bill excludes several dozen Planned Parenthood sites from the Women’s Health Program, but it does not exclude any other hundreds of Women’s Health Program providers in Texas. Many of the other providers offer comprehensive primary and preventative care to low- income women in addition to family planning, which Planned Parenthood is unable or unwilling to provide,” he continued. “By threatening to cancel the Women’s Health Program in Texas, the Obama Administration is showing it would sooner deny tens of millions of dollars of medical services to low-income women rather than allow the State of Texas to cut off tax funding to Planned Parenthood.”

Addendum: this article from the Houston Chronicle (I quoted from it here) which implies that the ruling may go so far as to overturn our long-standing law that requires providers to sign a contract affirming that they don’t perform or refer for abortions.

Perry border security history (Links, Headlines)

Edit on August 4, 2015. Unfortunately, the Governor’s office links no longer work. Even “Archives” only cover Abbott’s tenure.


I’m still working on this list, adding older sources that are hard to find online.

Here is a great source, the Governor’s website page on “Border Security.”


Guard Activation Remarks

added to the number of National Guards at Texas Airports

Creation of the Governor’s Task Force on Homeland Security


Border Facilities Fund Announcement San Antonio

Governor used funds from his own office to institute Counter Terrorism training at the Port of Houston and another separate program to train state and local law enforcement.


Operation Border Star

Gov. Perry works with the 16-member Texas Border Sheriff’s Association to deter illegal immigration and prevent border-related crime – Creates ‘Operation Linebacker”


Perry: Texas National Guard on Schedule in Operation Jump Start

Perry Authorizes More Border Security Funding, Virtual Border Watch Program

Border cameras (overview)

Operation Rio Grande


Gov. Perry Announces Phase II of State-Led Border Security Operation

Sheriff Fears Texas Gov. Perry’s Anti-Illegal Immigration Push

Gov. Perry Praises Progress of Statewide Radio Communications Capabilities


Gov. Perry Expanding Operation Border Star – Sends Rangers, Guard to the Border

Texas Rangers’ deployment to Mexico border a military-style effort

Video “They’ve gotta practice somewhere.”

Brownsville video on strategic fencing

Gov. Perry Announces Highly Skilled Ranger Recon Teams as Texas’ Latest Efforts to Enhance Border Security; Urges federal government to approve request for National Guard resources along border


National Guard Arrives in Texas Aug. 1

Texas Republicans protest plan to move National Guard troops off the border

Governor Perry’s Letter to Barack Obama

Federal Government Must Take Action To Prevent Spillover Violence from Mexico Requests Predator Drones and National Guard Troops along Border

Governor’s Perry’s Homeland Security Strategic Plan for Texas, 2010 – 2015 (pdf)

Gov. Perry Releases Texas Homeland Security Strategic Plan 2010-2015

Gov. Perry Orders Activation of First Phase Of Texas Spillover Violence Contingency Plan


President Obama extends National Guard deployments along Texas-Mexico border

Perry Tours Border With Greta van Susteren

National Public Radio, “Texas Governor Wages Own Battle Along Border”

Some angry Texans are stuck south of the barrier

Texas Senate to the Feds: Pay for Border Security

Gov. Perry Adds Sanctuary Cities to Special Session Call

Gov. Rick Perry on House Passage of House Bill 12

Gov. Perry Takes a Major Step in Securing the Integrity of the Electoral Process;
Signs legislation requiring voters to present photo ID at polling places

Statement by Gov. Rick Perry Regarding Sanctuary City Legislation

“Tea Party” Presses Perry on Immigration

You may hear about a media event held yesterday, when some self-proclaimed and self-promoting “Tea Party leaders” held a press conference.

Don’t forget that there really are no “Tea Party leaders.” We in the Tea Party are a very loose group, organized around the theme that we are “Taxed Enough Already.”  I seriously question whether this theme is consistent with a call for an expensive special session for a single issue.

In addition, there are no “sanctuary cities” in Texas. We have individual police chiefs and city officials who discourage law enforcement checks for citizenship status. Is it appropriate for those of us who believe in local, small government to over-ride local officials by an Executive Order or even legislative action that can’t garner wide spread support??

In this case, Governor Rick Perry put the “sanctuary cities” legislation on the emergency list for the Regular Session that began in January and then he brought it back during the Special Session called in June for the Budget Bill. During both the Regular and Special Sessions, the Governor brought pressure to bear on the Senate and the House to pass legislation. He called attention to the widow of the Houston police officer who was killed by an illegal alien. The Senate passed the Bill during the Special Session, but the House did not.

Another problem is that the so-called “leaders” can’t get their act together. During the Special Session, the “leaders” sent conflicting messages, with disagreement on the language in the Bill that had been cleared by Attorney General Greg Abbott. Take a look at this article from the same publication, “Sanctuary Cities Cause Rift.”

Critique of Judge Sam Sparks’ Opinion on Texas Ultrasound Law (part 2)

See Part 1, here
Media reports say that due to the injunction by Federal Judge Sam Sparks, the Texas Ultrasound law will not go into effect at all until a higher court rules on it. However, the Judge does note that there is a severability clause and that his injunction is narrow. I’m waiting to see opinions from lawyers as to whether abortionists will be held to parts of the law that are not specifically under injunction.

In the meantime, I wonder how many women will meet the abortionist before they are gowned and sedated for the procedure and how many will insist on seeing their sonograms?

In the second half of the Opinion by Judge Sam Sparks, the Judge outlines the specific complaints brought against the new law, HB 15, (text of the law, here ) . Most of those complaints are dismissed, even as the Judge continues to call the new law “unwise” and ultimately imposes an injunction against enforcement.

Sparks disagrees with the Plaintiffs, the Center for Reproductive Rights out of New York, that the definitions of “medical emergency,”  “sonogram,”  “in a quality consistent with current medical practice,” and “in a manner understandable to a layperson” are unconstitutionally vague.  He also disagrees with the Plaintiffs on whether or not “visit” and “abortion-related services” are unclear to most people.

The major complaints upheld by the judge appear to be that the law doesn’t allow for multiple-physician practices or for a switch if the original doctor who informed the woman about her ultrasound cannot, “through some unforeseen circumstances,” perform the abortion, requires a woman to sign an informed consent acknowledgement, and   forces the physician to “advance an ideological agenda.”  Sparks also does not like the word “soley,” for reasons that I don’t understand.

It is true that one purpose of the law was to ensure that women were given informed consent by the physician who was to perform the abortion, “in a private and confidential setting.” Most abortionists had been satisfying the 24 hour waiting period and informed consent the same way that Dr. Alan Braid’s Reproductive Services of San Antonio,  had:  over the phone  or by referring the woman to the information on the Internet.

However, it doesn’t appear that Sparks overturned these requirements, since the injunction overturns the objection to the requirement that women receive private and confidential informed consent and the exception for those who live more than 100 miles from the abortion clinic. The opinion only finds fault with the lack of accommodations for “unplanned substitutions.”

The judge makes a surprising statement about the requirement that a copy of the informed consent be inserted in the medical record of the woman:

Compounding this problem is newly-added section 171.0121, which requires both that a copy of the above certification be placed in the pregnant woman’s medical records (presumably permanently), and that the facility that performs the abortion retain a copy for at least seven years.See H.B. 15, Sec. 3 (adding TEX. HEALTH & SAFETY CODE ANN. § 171.0121). Given the nature of the certification and the Act’s retention requirements, it is difficult to avoid the troubling conclusion that the Texas Legislature either wants to permanently brand women who choose to get abortions, or views these certifications as potential evidence to be used against physicians and women.

Sparks says that the medical record is “semi-private,” and is concerned that it might someday be subpoenaed for use in a court case. The only time that these would be seen in Court is if the woman herself sues the doctor.

Sparks also engages in a bit of ideological speech of his own about the requirement for the abortionist to describe  “the presence of cardiac activity,” and “the presence of external members and internal organs.”

“ The Court does not think the disclosures required by the Act are particularly relevant to any compelling government  interest, but whatever relevance they may have is greatly diminished by the disclosures already required under Texas law, which are more directly pertinent to those interests.”

and, from page 50:

The net result of these provisions is: (1) a physician is required to say things and take expressive actions with which the physician may not ideologically agree, and which the physician may feel are medically unnecessary; (2) the pregnant woman must not only passively receive this potentially unwanted speech and expression, but must also actively participate—in the best case by simply signing an election form, and in the worst case by disclosing in writing extremely personal, medically irrelevant facts; and (3) the entire experience must be memorialized in records that are,at best, semi-private. In 7 the absence of a sufficiently weighty government interest, and a sufficiently narrow statute advancing that interest, neither of which have been argued by Defendants, the Constitution does not permit such compulsion.

Edit to add this question: How can a doctor “not ideologically agree” with the facts visible on the sonogram when describing heart or limbs?

In my opinion, the worst part of the ruling is Spark’s legal-speak on “compelling’ and his insistence on bringing back the ever-moving line of “viability:”

Second, while Casey refers to the government’s interest in potential life as “important,” “substantial,” and “legitimate,” it stops short of characterizing it as “compelling.” Indeed, one of the holdings of Roe v. Wade, and one this Court does not interpret Casey as having overruled, was that “[w]ith respect to the State’s important and legitimate interest in potential life, the ‘compelling’ point is at viability.”

Tell me, Judge Sparks, just what is “viability?” 24 weeks, 20 or 18 weeks?

link to Part 1 and “sticky” added September 5, 2011 12:19 PM BBN

Ultrasound law due September 1

The Texas Tribune, as part of its “31 Days, 31 Ways”  series of articles has a video interview with Dr. David Spear, an Austin abortionist and director of Planned Parenthood, concerning the soon to be enforced law requiring the doctor to meet with women before an abortion, and give her the information available from her pre-abortion ultrasound.

“The law is currently being challenged in federal court. U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks has said he plans to rule on the case by September. The New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights filed the suit in June, before requesting an injunction to prevent the law from going into effect on Sept. 1. In the suit, Texas Medical Providers Performing Abortion Services v. Department of State Health Services Commissioner David Lakey, the group argues that the law violates the equal protection clause by “subjecting [women] to paternalistic ‘protections’ not imposed on men” and the First Amendment rights of doctors by “forcing physicians to deliver politically-motivated communications” to their patients.”

Dr. Spear confirms that the ultrasound is standard of care as we heard that over and over in testimony at the Lege. The woman pays for the Ultrasound, already. It is her medical information.

No responsible doctor would introduce an instrument into the uterus without an ultrasound these days. It’s common practice to do this a couple of days before the abortion, although Dr. Spears implies that it is done the same day as the procedure. If it is true that it’s done the same day, is that before or after sedation and/or is the woman given the chance to evaluate her medical information while clothed, eye to eye with the doctor, or is she in a gown, feet up in the stirrups?

No one complains about other informed consent laws. There’s already law describing the informed consent for electric shock therapy, radiation therapy, sterilization and hysterectomy. Hysterectomy was the first such law. These (and the mandatory waiting period before Medicaid will pay for sterilization) came about because of a patronizing “doctor knows best” attitude of the past.

There’s nothing either political or religions about informing women about the ultrasound. There’s certainly noting political or religious about expecting the doctor to give informed consent – can you imagine if this conversation were about the heart catheterization and the heart ultrasound (echo-cardiogram)?

Part of the law includes the requirement to give information about the father;s responsibilities and about aide that is available locally for pregnancy and after the birth. These lists have been printed by the State and paid for by licensing fees for abortion clinics since 2005.

The Brief: Top Texas News for Aug. 4, 2011 — Texas News | The Texas Tribune


Governor Rick Perry is quoted as saying, “You know I don’t mind being the first. I like it.”

The Brief: Top Texas News for Aug. 4, 2011 — Texas News | The Texas Tribune.

Susan Combs: The TT Interview — 2014 Statewide Elections | The Texas Tribune

A change of heart? I certainly hope so,and she says that she and her husband have donated to the Austin Crisis Pregnancy Center. I thank her for this conversation and testimony, but I’d like to hear more. Texas Comptroller Susan Combs on “personal responsibility,” but not on the wrong of abortion itself:

Twenty years ago, I was pro-choice, not pro-abortion. I was pro-choice because I had concerns about the role of government. Here we are, you go to 2004, 5, 6, 7, 8, and I am actually stunned to find, in the 21st century, past the year 2000, that we are seeing abortion — which I really thought was rare — being used as a contraceptive. It’s just birth control. I spent some years that I am very proud of, being a prosecutor, handling child abuse and incest cases. And I saved kids. I really did save kids. I really think that I got them a better life.

I don’t know what you can call it but a lack of personal responsibility. If people are having abortions because they’re not taking personal responsibility, I find that just morally repugnant. It has reached such incredible numbers. I have been looking at studies and data and reading books and it is stunning to me. I say this with all seriousness. It is stunning to me that we are at the point in this country where in 2011, you have incredibly high numbers of women choosing to abort rather than have a baby or to have avoided the problem in the first place.

So I am unequivocal about it. I was wrong and it’s 20 years later, and I feel very strongly about it.

via Susan Combs: The TT Interview — 2014 Statewide Elections | The Texas Tribune.

Perry’s Surgery Included Experimental Stem Cell Therapy — Rick Perry | The Texas Tribune

I’ll admit it: this is just cool!  Notice the political and ethical comments from the Texas Tribune:

The governor’s procedure did not involve embryonic stem cells, which he and many other conservatives ardently oppose using for medical research on both religious and moral grounds. His treatment involved removing his own adult stem cells from healthy tissue and injecting them back into his body at the time of surgery, with the belief that the cells would assist tissue regeneration and speed recovery.

via Perry’s Surgery Included Experimental Stem Cell Therapy — Rick Perry | The Texas Tribune.

The FDA, which is in litigation over its authority to regulate new stem cell clinics, has not approved the use of adult stem cells for anything other than bone marrow transplants, which have been used for decades to treat cancer and sickle cell anemia patients. This has largely kept doctors from openly advertising these stem cell injections, but not from capitalizing on them by offering the therapy to their patients.

It also hasn’t stopped Perry from pushing for adult stem cell research and industry in Texas. During the governor’s 2009 State of the State address, he called on state leaders to invest in adult stem cell companies. Later that year, his Emerging Technology Fund awarded a $5 million grant to the Texas A&M Health Science Center Institute of Regenerative Medicine and $2.5 million to Helotes-based America Stem Cell to develop new adult stem cell technology.

Last month, three weeks after his adult stem cell treatment, Perry wrote a letter to the Texas Medical Board, which is considering new rules regarding adult stem cells, saying that he hoped Texas would “become the world’s leader in the research and use of adult stem cells.” He asked board members to “recognize the revolutionary potential that adult stem cell research and therapies have on our nation’s health, quality of life and economy.”

In the weeks since the procedure, the governor has traded his cowboy boots for orthopedic shoes and donned a back brace, raising questions that his recovery may be slow-going. Still, he has traveled extensively; in an interview with The Associated Press last week, Perry said he felt 80 percent recovered and was swimming and using the treadmill.

As for the high cost of such stem cell injections, Miner said that whatever health insurance didn’t pay for, “Perry did.”

In Perry’s procedure, his doctor, Houston orthopedic spine surgeon Stanley Jones, said he pulled stem cells from fatty tissue in the governor’s hip, left the cells to expand in culture for several weeks at a Sugar Land lab, then injected the cells back into the governor during his back surgery, into the spine and into Perry’s blood stream.

First Amendment: excuse for lawsuits or freedom?

The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

The Texas Tribune, that NPR/University of Texas online news organization that accepted $150,000 from George Soro’s “Open Society,” (whose url is “”), reports that atheists backed by an organization from Wisconsin, have filed suit to stop Governor Rick Perry’s participation in the prayer gathering in Houston next month. They claim that the 1st Amendment prohibits State Governors from public religious expression. It doesn’t seem odd to to them that the same Government should defend their right to not be religious while forcing others to refrain.
Forget for a moment that the Constitution is talking about the Federal Congress and not a State Legislature or Governor – look at the rest of the Amendment.

“… shall make no law” – no law for and no law against
“. . . the free exercise thereof . . . “
“ . . . abridging the freedom of speech . . .”
“. . . right of the people peaceably to assemble . . .”

The comments on TT  concerning the lawsuit are the typical Austin liberal screed, with an added anti-religious hatefulness and the obligatory hair comments thrown in. Knowing the type of readers who comment on these pages, I’m still surprised at the prejudice and lack of knowledge displayed. So, here’s my answer to their questions and doubts:

Yes, Christians do believe that the Lord chooses our Governors and other leaders. And, yes, Christians do have a need and “Commission” to testify about our faith and blessings. And many of us do not believe that we can abdicate our own private duty to Christ to care for the sick, poor or children to government, which hasn’t proven a good steward. And, no, you don’t have the right to be free from knowledge and tolerance of our free exercise of religion, speech, and assembly.

God bless their little hearts.

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