By Susan Dollar
For the “Progressive Views” column, Boerne Star, February 4, 2024
[editor’s note: an abbreviated version of this column appeared in the February 4, 2024 issue of the Boerne Star]
On December 24, 2023, the Viewpoints column by Rich Sena stressed that all lives matter. I found myself agreeing with much of what Rich wrote but his article also gave me pause. This is a continuation of my thoughts that were published in this column on February 4.
What about the lives of gun violence victims and families?
Texas has the 28th highest rate of gun violence in the US. In an average year, 3,996 people die and 5,556 are wounded by guns in Texas. In 2021, the number of gun violence deaths rose to 4,613. Five of the 10 deadliest mass shootings in America over the past eight years have been in Texas. Of all the states, Texas has the most registered guns (588,696) and roughly 60% of households own at least one gun.
Texas lawmakers have approved more than 100 bills that loosened regulations on firearms over the last two decades. U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data shows that deaths from firearms in Texas generally began to increase about two decades ago after a dramatic decline in the 1990s. The rate of gun homicides in Texas has increased more than 90% from 2012 to 2021, compared to a 73% increase nationwide, according to an analysis by Everytown of CDC data.
There is a direct correlation between states with weaker gun laws and higher rates of gun deaths, according to a 2021 study by Everytown. That relation is evident in Texas, where the number of mass shootings has tripled in the past five years, while mass shootings nationwide have nearly doubled from 2018 through the end of last year, according to data compiled by the Gun Violence Archive.
Matthew 26:52 – “Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.”
What about the lives of transgender people in Texas?
Nearly 30,000 13- to 17-year-olds in Texas identified as trans in a federal survey published in 2022. The rampant discrimination and stigma that trans people face often contribute to higher rates of stress and mental health problems compared to cisgender people.
Transition-related care is an umbrella term referring to a range of social practices, hormone therapies, mental health treatments and medical procedures that support a person’s gender identity. Trans kids and their parents, under the care of a medical team and mental health professionals, decide what types of medical care and practices, if any, make the most sense for them as individuals.
Yet Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law a bill that the law bars these trans kids from getting puberty blockers and hormone therapies, treatments many medical groups support. According to experts, this transition-related health care is often lifesaving and can be medically necessary in many cases. Abbott’s law also bans transition-related surgeries for kids, though those are rarely performed on minors. Trans kids, their parents and major medical groups say these medical treatments are also vital to protecting the mental health of an already vulnerable population, which faces a higher risk of depression and suicide than their cisgender peers.
Matthew 7:1-29 – Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.
What about the lives of women who had their reproductive freedoms taken away in Texas?
The total population of Texas in 2021 was 29,527,941. The population of women ages 15-44 was 6,156,590 and now those women of child-bearing age have had their right to make decisions about their own bodies and health taken away from them by the Texas Legislature.
More than a year after the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade, Texas continues to be the largest state in the nation to ban nearly all abortions. In early December 2023, a federal judge in Texas struck down Biden administration guidance requiring hospitals to provide medically necessary abortions under the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act, after a lawsuit filed by Attorney General Ken Paxton. Kate Cox, a 31-year-old Dallas mother of two, and her husband were thrilled to find out they were pregnant, and devastated to receive a lethal fetal diagnosis. Her doctor said she needed an abortion to preserve her health and future fertility, but because of state law, was unable to proceed. Even with a court order allowing her doctor to terminate her non-viable pregnancy, Paxton channeled the full power of the state to stop her, threatening hospitals, appealing to the state’s highest court and ultimately getting the order blocked. Cox ultimately had to seek medical care outside Texas “due to the ongoing deterioration” of her health.
Romans 14:13 – Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.
What about the lives of those affected by hate crimes in Texas?
According to Justice.gov, there were 616 hate crimes perpetrated in Texas in 2022. The majority of those crimes were based on race/ethnicity/ancestry (350), followed by crimes based on sexual orientation (127), religion (76), gender identity (41), disability (15), and gender (7).
The American Psychological Association reports that experiences of racial discrimination are consistently linked with mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress disorder , as well as physical ailments such as diabetes, hypertension, and obesity.
Young adults who faced discrimination frequently were around 25% more likely to be diagnosed with a mental health disorder and twice as likely to develop severe psychological distress than those who hadn’t experienced discrimination or did less often. A 2020 study found experiences of hate are associated with poor emotional wellbeing such as feelings of shame. Victims often experience poor mental health, including depression, anxiety, and suicidal behavior.
Ephesians 4:31 – Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.
If you believe that all the lives of all humanity matter, then what about these lives? Is this how we want our fellow Texans to live? Is this the Texas we want to live in?
As Texans, we need to remember Luke 6:30-31 – Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.
Susan Dollar is the President of the Boerne Area Democrats.