Of all the religious extremists that Greg Abbott has pandered to this past session, perhaps the most surprising was his kowtowing to the Scientologists.
The Los Angeles-based cult and alleged celebrity money-extraction organization has a problem with mental health, and pressured Abbott to veto an important bipartisan measure that would have protected patients who posed a threat to themselves or others.
The last time we checked Abbott wasn’t trying to go clear or worshipping Xenu, so the story caught folks quite by surprise. The Texas Tribune got the scoop.
So how did this happen?
1) Sen. Royce West (D) and house co-sponsor Rep. Paul Workman (R) filed legislation that provides doctors with an additional four hours to hold mentally ill patients who pose a danger to themselves or others, rather than release them. It would only apply to patients who voluntarily seek health services. It had broad, bipartisan support from healthcare and psychiatric organizations, and passed both chambers by wide margins.
2) The Scientologists caught wind of it, and under the name of the group “Citizens Commissions on Human Rights,” an anti-psychiatry group, started to organize against it. Scientology opposes modern mental health care practices, recommending instead that people grab metal cans and spill their secrets to people who will blackmail them.
3) They managed to convince other organizations to join in, including anti-public school activists (Texas Home School Coalition), anti-vaccination activists (Parents Requesting Open Vaccine Education), and — of course — anti-flouride activists (Texans for Accountable Government).
4) Abbott issued the veto. Shortly thereafter, the lobbyist for the Scientology-backed group sent Abbott’s wife a note thanking her. “”I have not forgotten about your last message,” he wrote. “Please consider yourself invited to our office, and any event we hold, any time.”
Is the Scientology lobbyist creepin’ on Abbott’s wife??
What was in her message?!
5) Like many of Abbott’s vetoes, this one came as a surprise. The president of the Texas Medical Association, Tom Garcia, told the Tribune that group was “extremely disappointed” and that the bill “would have saved lives.”
Now, we are left with many questions.
Is Greg Abbott secretly a Scientologist? (Probably not. I’ve always found him more of a Suppressive Person myself.)
But seriously — how is it that a confab primarily composed of fringe organizations that actively oppose scientific knowledge can persuade the Governor of Texas to veto a very narrow mental health bill that has the backing of the major medical and psychiatric organizations in the state?
Scientologists, anti-vaxxers, and flouride fear-mongerers should not be setting mental health policy in Texas.
This veto is an embarrassment for Greg Abbott, and a warning to health care professionals: this guy is not to be trusted.