(Weekly Column)

Allegedly small-government Republicans are working to scuttle immigration legislation by including astronomically expensive S1measures. This includes a Great Wall of China-style fence that fails to consider that many immigrants simply fly here on airplanes and never leave. However, traffic at the border may soon be headed in the other direction, as poor woman in Texas flee the state to get abortion pills in Mexican pharmacies (or stay home to clandestinely get them in Texas flea markets.)

Led by Gov. Rick Perry, who is opportunistically ramping up for another doomed presidential run, the Texas Senate just passed one of the most draconian anti-abortion bills in the nation. The bill would prohibit abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, and has no exception for victims of rape or incest. It would also force abortion clinics to adhere to prohibitively expensive regulations that would force most of them out of business.

Clinics would be compelled to have hallways that are as wide as those in surgery centers, so stretchers could fit through in cases of emergency. Proponents of the restrictive bill absurdly argue that the rules need to change in order to protect women and save lives.

“It is time these clinics put patients ahead of profits,” the House bill’s author, Rep. Jodie Laubenberg (R) cynically regurgitated, as if women dying in abortion clinics were an actual crisis.

For a reality check, let’s look at Whole Woman’s Health Clinic in McAllen, Texas, a center that performs 1,900 abortions a year. They may be closed down because the hallways won’t meet the new guidelines. Yet, nine years and roughly 17,000 abortions later, the clinic has sent only two clients to the hospital, who were both successfully treated for bleeding.

The disingenuous concern from dissembling Tea Party members, like Laubenberg, highlights the underlying religious tyranny that is really driving this debate. They understand that science is not on their side. After all, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the Texas Medical Association opposed the Texas bill. The lobbying slogan used by these groups was “Get out of our exam rooms.”

What these busybodies care about is imposing their religious viewpoints on all Americans. If they truly gave a damn about women, they would be in favor of comprehensive sex education and providing birth control. They would vote for economic measures that would lift families out of abject poverty so they could actually afford to raise children. But, as the adage goes, fundamentalists only care about the unborn – but once you pop out of the womb you can go to hell.

Which brings us back to Mexico, the neighboring country where some Texas women may soon have to travel to terminate unwanted pregnancies. In desperation, they will purchase abortion medication at pharmacies that promise to “bring back a woman’s period,” according to a report in the New York Times. As of yet, there is no word from Rep. Laubenberg on whether she is concerned that the Mexican pharmacies or Texas flea markets are unlikely to meet the standards of surgical centers.

The anti-abortion lobby is, perhaps, the filthiest of all social issue activists. They laughably call themselves pro-life, yet create a climate where zealots feel it is sometimes justified to murder an abortion doctor. They pretend to be concerned about women, but habitually harass and heckle young teenage girls as they seek medical services. These extremists profess to be Christians, yet chronically lie by tricking vulnerable women into entering virulently anti-abortion pregnancy crisis centers. It is ironic that for groups so uptight about sex, all their political tactics are below the belt.

What the anti-abortion movement really wants is to turn women into helpless baby factories that have no future. This is why the Family Research Council just hired Joshua Duggar as its spokesperson. His parents, who have a reality TV show, have 19 children, and he wants a similarly sized family. Which is fine if he has the means to feed, clothe, house and educate these children without being on the public dole. But it is irresponsible for this family to be a role model for the general public.

Fortunately, there are still responsible people who understand that family planning matters, and the best chance children have at succeeding in life comes from being born into homes with parents who are prepared to take care of them.

The anti-abortion movement is enjoying its heyday and is probably at the pinnacle of its success – because the threat to women is largely theoretical. Wait until a few American women float north on the Rio Grande in wooden boxes because they ingested poison they thought were abortion pills. Wing nuts, such as Laubenberg, won’t seem so pro-life after a couple of these high profile funerals occur in the Lone Star State.

The Texas legislature is treating women like piñatas. Those who voted for the measure should stop pretending they care one tamale and state the truth: A few dead or damaged women is a price worth paying to impose their fundamentalist beliefs on all Texas citizens.