The State of Texas: Statewide Abortion Data is Finally Released
Plus: Flesh-eating bacteria is bumming out Texas beachgoers, more transgender Texans are cool with coming out, and Matthew McConaughey gets into higher education at UT.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“When we drafted the legislation we had no idea how well it would coincide with Shark Week, so we really nailed it on that one.”
—Katie Jarl, the Texas state director for the Humane Society of the United States, to the Texas Tribune. The state’s ban on trading shark fins goes into effect today, amid the Discovery Channel‘s popular annual week-long programming tribute to sharks. Pretty good timing.
On Thursday, the Texas Department of State Health Services finally released its data about abortions in Texas since House Bill 2 was signed into law three years ago. Before they were overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday, the omnibus abortion bill’s new restrictions on abortion clinics caused more than half of the state’s providers to shutter. The biggest takeaway from the state’s data shows that abortions in Texas dropped by 15 percent in the first year since HB2 was passed, according to the Associated Press. Would that data have been helpful, like, before SCOTUS’s decision? Probably. Considering the main issue in the court battle was whether the bill placed an “undue burden” on women seeking abortion services, statistics showing that significantly fewer women were getting abortions following the bill’s passage could have been handy. Pro-choice groups had been calling for the state to release the data for some time now, claiming the department was intentionally delaying the release of the information in an attempt to affect the impending SCOTUS decision. “These numbers show that this law never had anything do with women’s health,” an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union told the Associated Press. “It’s clear why lawmakers might have wanted to keep this information out of the public eye before the Supreme Court made its decision.” Now the data is a cherry on top for the pro-choice crowd, because it seems to prove what they’ve been saying all along. But Texas conservatives were pretty happy with what the data showed too. According to the Texas Tribune, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick said on Thursday that pro-lifers should be “celebrating,” because the data shows that there “are about 10 to 12,000 2-and 3-year-olds running around today… because of this legislation.”
MEANWHILE, IN TEXAS
Nothing ruins a nice trip to the beach like flesh-eating bacteria. According to the San Antonio Express-News, summertime travelers seeking fun in the sun this holiday weekend are weary to dip their toes in sand and water, since there’s a (very slim) chance they could eventually lose them. The anti-beach hysteria comes after a high-profile incident in which a man lost his leg due to an infection caused by Vibrio bacteria, which he apparently contracted while swimming in the Gulf of Mexico, according to the Houston Chronicle. The Express-News reports that hundreds of concerned citizens have called the Galveston County Health District, most with “a sense of panic in their voice,” according to the health district’s spokesman. As the Houston Press noted last week, it’s been a particularly rough month for Galveston’s beaches, with erroneous reports of “sea lice” and an actual shark bite adding to the bad press from the Vibrio case. But everyone from coastal city tourism bureau spokespeople to state health officials maintain that our beaches are A-OK. Go forth and chill.
Coming Out Party
A new survey shows that more Texans than ever are comfortable coming out as transgender, according to the Dallas Morning News. The Williams Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles, analyzed federal data and found more than twice as many Americans are identifying as trans than five years ago, including 125,000 Texans. According to the Morning News, transgender Texans account for .66 percent of the state’s overall population, which is above the national average and good for the fifth-highest rate of transgender folks in the nation. Texas LGBT activists say the survey shows that transgender Texans have strength in numbers. “It’s a game changer,” one LGBT advocate told the Morning News. “It’s a place for us to start saying, ‘Texas is an OK place to be.'” More good news for Texas’s transgender population: on Thursday, the Pentagon lifted its ban on transgender troops, according to the Texas Tribune.
Matthew McConaughey will be co-teaching a film class at his alma mater—the University of Texas at Austin—this fall, according to an announcement posted on the school’s Facebook page. The hype surrounding this is unsurprisingly massive, and there will likely be a stampede to sign up for the 30-student class, which is open only to juniors and seniors but does not have any prerequisites or special fees. But despite the hype, it takes some true detective work to figure out what we should actually expect from McConaughey in the classroom. When the San Antonio Express-News inquired with a university spokesperson about McConaughey’s exact educational role, it found that the Hollywood star “will take students ‘behind the scenes’ of his upcoming film Free State of Jones through recorded videos and at least one on-campus visit.” Still pretty cool, but not exactly a full-blown teaching position. Apparently, McConaughey “co-taught” the same class at UT last semester, too, but students had to sign a nondisclosure agreement and couldn’t take photos in class because his film hadn’t been released yet, according to the Express-News.
WHAT WE’RE READING
A Trump supporter featured on CNN is also the daughter of a man convicted in the Southlake cartel killing Fort Worth Star-Telegram
A Texas A&M scientist uses pollen to solve crimes Houston Press
The state’s top CPS managers were about to get huge raises, but now they have to actually be competent first Austin American-Statesman
The stories of the two identified victims in this week’s North Texas train collision Amarillo Globe-News
Selena will get her own Hollywood star Corpus Christi Caller-Times