Texas Democratic Party chairman Gilberto Hinojosa has been caught by a media fact-checking web site lying about the late-term abortion ban the state Senate is considering today.
Hinojosa said that, if the bill becomes law, women would have a hard time getting access to basic health care — saying, “someone living in El Paso would have to drive 550 miles each way to San Antonio for something as simple as cervical cancer screening.”
The web site Politifact noticed the claim and found it erroneous enough to give it it’s worst rating possible, “Pants on Fire.”
When we contacted the Democratic Party about Hinojosa’s claim, spokeswoman Tanene Allison told us by email that although the chairman’s San Antonio reference could be read as saying no El Paso facility would continue to provide such services, it was not intended that way.
Hinojosa “does recognize that there may be other clinics open for these screenings in El Paso,” Allison said.
“Our intention was to say that if you go to the clinics that are covered under HB2, you would have to drive 550 miles to get some of the services that you normally get locally,” Allison said. “We certainly could have been clearer and will be in future emails.”
Still, we checked on conditions in El Paso for ourselves.
So, if Reproductive Services were to shut down, would El Paso women have to drive 550 miles to get a test for cervical cancer?
“That’s unbelievable. That’s not possible. I don’t even know where to start,” said Adriana Valdes, co-director of outreach and case management at the Cancer and Chronic Disease Consortium, which manages El Paso clinics’ participation in the state’s Breast and Cervical Cancer Services program.
“There are a lot of organizations and institutions here that can provide access to those services,” Valdes told us by phone. Lawmakers “need to put all the facts together” before making decisions that could affect funding for women’s health “coming into needy communities like ours,” she said. “Many towns and hospitals are committing their monies to diagnostic screenings and diagnostic services and none of them are providing abortion services.”
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Among health care options in El Paso is University Medical Center, which according to an online fact sheet is the largest public hospital on the U.S./Mexico border. Spokesman Jethro Armijo told us by phone that the hospital has seven outpatient clinics offering women’s health care including cervical cancer screenings. The clinics do not offer abortions and are located throughout the county, he said.
Hinojosa said that if the abortion legislation passed, an El Paso resident would have to make a 550-mile trip to San Antonio for simple services like a cervical cancer screening.
That’s not so; such services will continue to be available in El Paso, local experts say. This statement misses the mark so badly, it’s ridiculous. Pants on Fire!