This coming summer, the mosquito-borne Zika virus could be troublesome for many Southern states, including Texas.
Wisely, that state is reviewing plans and preparing preventive measures against the disease that is linked to serious birth defects and Guillain-Barre syndrome.Officials are deeply worried that the state’s declining to expand Medicaid has left gaps in women’s healthcare that will reduced the ability to educate Texans about Zika risks.
As of March, Florida, New York and Texas had the highest number of confirmed Zika cases in the US. Unlike New York the Southern states Florida and Texas share restrictive laws on women’s access to health clinics and legal abortions. The focus is Zika now but Heather Busby, director of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, a prominent reproductive rights group. Explains: “It’s really part of a larger problem regarding the lack of reproductive health care at all levels in Texas.”
Part of their plan now is to rely on and cooperate with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Fearing a health crisis Governor Greg Abbott (R) has called cooperation with the federal agency critical for the state, and he has asked for $11 million in US funding for Zika “surveillance and infrastructure.”
The Texas governor is doing the right thing for public health, but you have to wonder how he squares this cry for federal help with the state’s relentless drumbeat toward secession from the USA to form an independent nation of Texas.
While the move for Texas to secede is regarded as a “fringe” movement, support has grown in the last eight years, mostly among Republicans. It should be noted that the governor’s office (plus the lieutenant governorship), both houses in the state’s legislature, and all of the elected governing boards are controlled by the GOP.
This spring, at their convention, the Texas GOP came within two votes of agreeing to hold a vote over secession from the United States.
In 2015 Gov. Abbott went so far as to order the Texas State Guard to monitor a US Navy SEAL/Green Beret training exercise taking place in the state, a move based on fears it was the prelude to an “invasion” by the USA.
“It is important that Texans know their safety, constitutional rights, private property rights and civil liberties will not be infringed upon.” said Abbott.
A couple months ago the governor called for other states to join Texas in a convention to explore ways to regain control he believes has been taken by the federal government.
But as crisis looms, all that independence can be set aside, and for a while we are all Americans again — at least while Zika funding is needed.
And help should reach them — once Texas passports are issued for CDC officials and others are cleared to enter Texas territory. I am sure the $11 million in federal funds can be converted into Texas currency very rapidly.