It’s also the land of shameful hypocrisy.
All of this is done under the cover of “freedom” — freedom, apparently, to sicken and potentially kill your colleagues and neighbors. It’s a kind of freedom from state interference that does not apply to Texas women and girls. After all, this same Texas governor signed a law banning most abortions in the state
, with no exception for rape or incest.
The Texas abortion law is in full effect and is still making its way through the courts
(the Supreme Court refused to halt the law from going into effect; a district court then hit pause, only to have the conservative Fifth Circuit overrule that decision). But Abbott’s anti-abortion and Covid rules taken together paint a stark portrait of what it now means to be “pro-life”: Willing to go to great lengths to preserve the life of a 6-week-old embryo, but refusing to take basic steps to protect the well-being of women and girls, or the lives of Texans after they’re born. Nearly 70,000 Texans
have died of Covid, many of them vulnerable: The sick and the elderly
And when we get right down to it, Texas seems less concerned with fetal life than controlling women.
Pregnant women face particularly serious risks if they are unvaccinated and contract Covid-19. One study in England
found that nearly 20% of critically ill patients in that country are pregnant and unvaccinated. The CDC is clear
that while vaccination is not any riskier for people who are pregnant than for people who are not, contracting Covid is much more dangerous for those who are pregnant: It increases the chance of death by 70%, and is tied to preterm and stillbirths.
So where are the pro lifers who should be interested in saving these babies and their mothers?
It seems that too many of them — including Abbott — are more interested in legally forcing women and girls to carry pregnancies while also forcing private employers to bend to the right’s political will
. And they aren’t even willing to simply butt out and do what conservatives often demand, which is to let the free market work its magic.
Instead, they are directly interfering. They are making it illegal for private employers to employ the best practices for promoting the health and safety of their workers. And they are making it illegal for private employers to choose to take common sense steps to protect the public from a highly contagious and potentially deadly disease.
In most other cases, the Republican Party is outraged at government encroachment into private business. They have opposed
anti-discrimination laws because, they say, some of those laws infringe upon “freedom.”
The Trump White House’s deregulation spree
also sought to maximize employers’ rights and profit at the expense of worker safety, health and pay. Basic rules on workplace injury and illness record-keeping were rolled back, as were rules that made it easier for workers to save for retirement and allowed the unemployed access to their benefits. And the Republican Party’s efforts to decimate unions
and curtail worker power and organizing are decades old and well-documented.
It’s crucial to understand the Texas Covid rules in this context. Greg Abbott and his Republican Party are not instituting these rules because they have a deep ideological dedication to workers’ rights or bodily autonomy or individual freedom.
They are instituting these rules because the GOP has managed to politicize a pandemic and to gut the public’s trust in public health guidance. They are putting the stupidest of politics above the lives of all Texans — and then having the nerve to call themselves “pro life.”