By Allyson Waller
The impact of abortion limits on Black women: For Linda Goler Blount, president and CEO of the Black Women’s Health Imperative, her mother’s generation’s fight for abortion care set the stage for her generation to make choices about their own bodies.
But now she fears the same won’t be true for other Black people, now that access to abortions will theoretically be banned in Texas after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled to overturn Roe v. Wade. Women of color, particularly Black women, will likely feel the disproportionate effect of these abortion limits. Black women account for 38.4% of abortion patients, the largest share among other racial and ethnic groups, according to 2019 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Pregnancy is by far not an easy road for Black women. In the U.S., they are more likely to die from pregnancy or childbirth compared to women of other races — and the risk spans across income and education levels, according to a 2018 report from the National Partnership for Women and Families. They’re also more likely than other racial groups to experience maternal health complications throughout a pregnancy. There are various reasons for the high statistics: lack of access to proper prenatal care and cultural, psychosocial and environmental factors that can promote weight gain, high chronic stress and race-based trauma. Black women produce about 15% more cortisol, a stress hormone, than white women, which in turn raises the risk of pregnancy complications, according to the National Library of Medicine.
With movement from the state Legislature unlikely to offer protections for abortion or expand access to birth control, Blount said it’s up to organizations like hers to take matters into their own hands and come together to fund and find resources to help Black women. Read more from the Tribune’s Cecilia Lenzen.
Cracking down on “cloned” trucks: All it took for the smugglers to mimic the tractor-trailer’s identity was the right paint job and a federal ID number.
The identity theft eventually led to the deaths of 53 migrants in San Antonio this week who were found inside the truck in the most deadly migrant smuggling case in U.S. history. Fewer than 100 cases of physical identity theft of big rigs are reported nationally to federal regulators, but it’s possible much more occur as an estimated 3.5 million take to the nation’s highways daily.
Owners of the Alamo-based trucking company Betancourt Trucking and Harvesting said the truck found in San Antonio had the same red color and identifying numbers as one of their vehicles. Once smugglers have assumed a legitimate truck’s identity, it’s easy for them to slip through border inspections, said Steve McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety. As a result of the migrant tragedy, he said Texas DPS will crack down on clones at state inspection checkpoints recently announced by Gov. Greg Abbott.
Border Patrol checkpoints are equipped with X-ray machines, K-9 units used to detect humans, license plate readers and weight sensors, said John Esparza, president and chief executive officer of the Texas Trucking Association. But despite the technology, and unless something triggers a closer inspection, it’s entirely possible for a cloned vehicle to pass a light inspection. Read more from the Tribune’s Karen Brooks Harper.
“Remain in Mexico” policy: In a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against Texas and Missouri and said the Biden administration has the right to end a Trump-era immigration policy started in 2019 that forces asylum-seekers to wait in Mexico as their cases make their way through U.S. immigration courts. The case will now be sent back to a district court to determine if terminating the policy violated any administrative laws.
About 70,000 asylum-seekers have been sent to Mexico through the policy, known as the Migrant Protection Protocols and also called “remain in Mexico.” The thousands of asylum-seekers have led to refugee camps on the Mexican side of the border, where many migrants became targets for kidnappers and drug cartels. Due to a separate policy, Title 42, fewer people have the opportunity to make an asylum claim and even be enrolled in the MPP program.
It’s unclear if the Biden administration will immediately try to end the program or wait for a lower court’s ruling. Immigrant rights advocates celebrated the Supreme Court’s ruling Thursday, while Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton pledged to continue litigating Biden’s immigration policies in court.
On average, it takes five years for a migrant to get a decision on their asylum case. The Biden administration released a new plan to wrap up asylum cases within six months but that also has faced pushback from Texas with the case pending in the courts. Read more from the Tribune’s Uriel García.
BEST OF THE TRIB
A state school safety leader assured that random inspections set to take place at public schools to detect weak access points will not resemble potentially traumatizing intruder situations. The inspections are set to start in September to ensure school buildings are properly secured in the aftermath of the Uvalde school shooting.
Families of the victims of the massacre at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde demanded the town’s mayor release details of the shooting’s investigation at a City Council meeting on Thursday. Mayor Don McLaughlin told family members if city officials released details about the investigation, they could be prosecuted.
A working group of nine Texas educators advising the state education board on curriculum changes have proposed to teach slavery as “involuntary relocation” to second graders. However, board members have asked them to reconsider the phrasing as it considers updates to social studies instruction.
In a lawsuit brought by 17 states, including Texas, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency could not require states to decarbonize their electricity sectors. The ruling presents a significant blow to the country’s ability to reduce greenhouse gases and mitigate the effects of climate change.
Amid declines in student enrollment, referred to as the “Great Student Resignation,” three campus leaders in Odessa said their outlying success with retention has been due to meeting students where they are, such as examining workforce gaps in the community and offering greater virtual learning flexibility.
BEST OF THE REST
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Senate filibuster: President Joe Biden said he would support changing Senate filibuster rules in order to codify abortion rights. But it’s not clear if he would have the support of Democrats in the Senate, particularly U.S. Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona. (The 19th)
Interstate 35: Austin-based advocacy groups are suing the Texas Department of Transportation over plans to expand nearly 30 miles of I-35 through Central Texas. The groups accuse the agency of not properly studying the expansion’s overall environmental impact. (Austin American-Statesman)
THE LAST WORD
“There are steps that can be taken to reduce maternal mortality rates, but they start with valuing the very lives of these people who are giving birth.”
— Linda Goler Blount, president and CEO of the Black Women’s Health Imperative on the effect state abortion limits will have on Black women in the wake of Roe v. Wade being overturned