September 26, 2020

The Niche

Knoepfler lab stem cell blog

Texas Gov Abbott pandemic hypocrisy on abortion vs. stem cell clinics

Greg Abbott Texas stem cells COVID abortion
Governor Greg Abbott of Texas.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott has effectively banned abortions in his state during the COVID-19 pandemic, but his reasoning makes no sense and is inconsistent with his policies more generally on health-care clinics.

The Tribune notes that while “Abbott’s original ban was intended to preserve medical resources”, his own statements contradict that, including “On Friday, he said Texas had ample hospital bed space and a strong supply chain of personal protective equipment.”

As I wrote last week, I “checked in” with unproven stem cell clinics across the country by phone and found 6 out of 10 that I made contact with were still open during the pandemic, and this included 2 in Texas. On Friday I checked out a few more in that state and they were open too.

Why hasn’t Governor Abbott closed down stem cell clinics and he’s instead focusing on abortion clinics?

It’s politics, of course. Abbott has a long history of hostility to abortion clinics (e.g. wanting to overturn Roe v. Wade) and has embraced unproven stem cell clinics. One of the first stem cell clinics in the nation was a firm run by Texans called Celltex that injected then-Governor Rick Perry and Abbott signed a new law in 2017 that was widely viewed as being pro-stem cell clinic.

If medical supplies were actually in dire shape in his state as Abbott claimed for his reason to target abortion clinics, then he should shut down stem cell clinics in Texas. It sure seems on a quick look that there are far more stem cell clinics there than active abortion clinics in that state.

Also, according to NPR Abbott’s action has pushed many women seeking abortions to travel long distances to other states to find clinics, potentially putting themselves at greater risk of getting COVID-19.

Looking ahead, this coming week Texas and some others will start “opening up” with a softening of shelter in place kind of restrictions. In my view, the U.S. does not seem ready to open up given the state of the pandemic and inadequate testing for COVID-19 that is ongoing. What’s likely to happen is that we’ll see a second wave of the novel coronavirus infections at some point in the coming months in part due to the relaxations of restrictions in states across the country.

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