Abortion Rights, Voting Rights, Privacy Rights and Health
Care Rights: What About YOUR Rights?


Leonard Zwelling

Texas, as you all know, we have just been through a filibuster in the Senate
that led to a second extra session and final passage of a bill that will
restrict Texas women’s rights to receive legal abortions. This was done by
outlawing abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy and imposing restrictive requirements
on facilities and doctors who perform abortions.

am not going to enter the debate about whether or not abortion should be legal
because that question has been decided by the US Supreme Court a long time ago.
I back Bill Clinton’s abortion stance of safe, legal and rare. What we see in
Texas is an attempt, successful in this case, to prevent some Americans from
having rights that the federal government granted to others through the Roe v.
Wade decision of the Supreme Court. Interestingly, the rights were taken away
mostly by Republican members of the Texas legislature and will negatively
impact poor women in a disproportionate fashion. This is the latest GOP
strategy of nibbling away at current laws to which the party objects.

same is being tried when it comes to voting rights as picture IDs may be
required to obtain the right to vote and a disproportionate number of poor
(usually Democratically voting) Texans may be disenfranchised as they do not
have this form of ID. The argument that the use of picture IDs will prevent
wide spread voter fraud is just that—a fraud– as there is very little voter
fraud any where in the US. Attorney General Holder wants to keep Texas under
the preclearance provisions of the Voting Rights Act that the Supreme Court
recently overturned for this reason.

(See excellent article in NY Times, July 25  by Adam Liptak and Charlie Savage: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/26/us/holder-wants-texas-to-clear-voting-changes-with-the-us.html?ref=politics&_r=0)

Washington, DC, the US House of Representatives has narrowly preserved the
government’s ability to access your phone records in the name of national
security. There can be no doubt that the National Security Agency is
interfering with your right to privacy, although this right is not guaranteed
in the Bill of Rights, as far as I am aware. Nonetheless, Americans have come
to believe that their private phone conversations are indeed private and if
national security could be compromised without this invasive action by
officials, the officials should have a court order to tap your phone. Or so we
all thought from watching Law and Order.

          The NY Times also reported the fallacy in this logic as the
Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that decides the limits on government’s
ability to tap your phone for national security reasons is packed with
conservative, ex-executive branch appointees who are not inclined to worry about your
privacy. Most appointments to the FISA court were made by Chief Justice


Affordable Care Act does a lot of things, good and bad. But the main thing it
attempted to do is to obtain health insurance for many, but not all, of the 50
million uninsured. The bill was supposed to cover 30 to 32 of the 50 million
using the insurance exchanges, subsidies for the poor, the individual mandate,
and, for about half of the 30 million, Medicaid expansion to cover mostly poor
Americans who were not covered under previous Medicaid plans.

Supreme Court undermined the latter by allowing states to opt out of Medicaid
expansion and once again the obstinacy of Texas leadership will deny our
citizens rights that other Americans will have. Watch for your property taxes
to go up to cover the added health care burden that LBJ, Ben Taub and the rest of Harris
Health will now have to cover. The cost of this would have been defrayed by our own federal
taxes coming back home to Texas to the tune of $100 billion if Medicaid had expanded. Expansion would
have cost Texans nothing for the first 3 years if the Governor and Legislature
had not rejected it.

it should come as no surprise to any Texan that an arm of the state government
is trying to take their rights away. It has become expected.

a minute. The leadership of MD Anderson is clearly a part of the state of Texas
government as Anderson is a free-standing component of the UT System. In years
past, it was assumed that faculty members had the right to speak their minds
without severe repercussions, participate in institutional governance, and
share leadership responsibilities with the President and his VPs of various
stripes (Executive, Senior and vanilla/plain; isn’t that what VP stands for
now?). It would only be on very rare occasions that the decisions of peers on
the Promotion and Tenure Committee would be reversed by the President. Well,
forego that one as well for that just isn’t the case any longer.

only question remains: are the leaders of MD Anderson tapping your phones and
email accounts? Can’t be? Au contraire. Read the warning when you use your
computer. You have no expectation of privacy. Don’t you wonder what else the
state of Texas is up to?

Leonard Zwelling