Numbed as many of us Texans are by the egregious actions of the state's top "leaders," there is no denying one truly dismal and disheartening fact: Many of their actions over the past year have been nothing less than cruel.
And, clearly, the cruelty of certain laws and administrative orders is not unique to Texas. The abortion law in Ohio that would require a ten-year-old rape victim to give birth to the child of her rapist is disgracefully inhumane.
(The definition of cruel: "willfully causing pain or suffering to others, or feeling no concern about it.")
Such actions may come from the governor, Greg Abbott; but the most reliable wielder of mayhem and cruelty in the Lone Star State is the attorney general, Ken Paxton.
His latest foray into the unforgivable is his suit against the Biden administration for its assertion that the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTLA) requires hospitals to provide emergency care, including abortion, if the patient presents with a medical condition related to pregnancy that necessitates such treatment.
Conditions that can fall into this category include sudden, dangerous miscarriages and ectopic pregnancies. Although the new Texas law (SB 8) allows abortions if the mother's life is at stake or she is at risk of major bodily impairment, abortions as treatment for the very serious conditions mentioned above are not legal.
An untreated ectopic pregnancy can result in severe internal bleeding, infection, and, in some cases, death. Moreover, an ectopic pregnancy cannot grow into a fetus, meaning that the notion of "life" beginning at conception, however doomed that "life" might come to be before even becoming a fetus, is more important than the health and, possibly, the life of the mother.
Depriving a woman of the most effective treatment when she is almost certainly dealing with serious emotional issues and physical pain is...cruel. The unfailing alacrity with which Paxton files his lawsuits against the administration is indicative of his lack of concern for the people whose health--or lives--he puts at risk.
The actions of Governor Abbott are at least as deplorable, aimed as some of them are at children. In April of this year he ordered the state's Child Protective Services to investigate families who provide gender-affirming care to their children, citing an opinion by none other than AG Paxton.
His office proudly released this statement: "Attorney General Ken Paxton released a formal attorney general opinion concluding that performing certain 'sex-change' procedures on children, and prescribing puberty-blockers to them, is 'child abuse' under Texas law. The holding comes at a critical time when more and more Texans are seeing the horrors that flow from the merging of medicine and misguided ideology."
The state supreme court since then has ruled that only one family could be protected from the intrusive process. In June, a Travis county district judge granted a temporary order that has stopped most investigations as of this time.
But why would a state pursue so relentlessly a policy that inflicts cruel consequences on parents and children?
According to the Texas Tribune, "more than half of all transgender youth report considering suicide, but the rates are much lower for those who are able to access gender-affirming health care."
But Texas, or rather the Texas presented to the world by its far-right leaders, has become a state where assault rifles are more important than children's lives; where punitive, intrusive laws are more important than the lives of pregnant women; and where children and their families who follow medical advice in difficult circumstances are put in legal jeopardy.
If this isn't cruelty, what is it?