Abortion clinics would be required to meet stricter standards under a bill approved 5-2 by the Senate Health and Human Services Committee Tuesday after emotional testimony over whether the measure would protect women’s health or risk it by causing clinics to close.
“My intent in filing this bill is only to protect Texas women who undergo this procedure,” said Sen. Bob Deuell, R-Greenville, who authored the measure with two fellow doctors, Republican Sens. Donna Campbell of New Braunfels and Charles Schwertner of Georgetown.
Planned Parenthood called the measure, Senate Bill 537, a “back-door abortion ban.”
Deuell said he doesn’t think abortions should be legal, but he accepts reality, and that his bill isn’t meant to decrease abortions or to close clinics.
In the past two years, Texas legislators slashed funds for family planning and passed up $30 million a year in federal Medicaid money, largely to squeeze Planned Parenthood out of the state’s women’s health programs. Last week, hundreds gathered at the south steps of the Texas State Capitol in Austin to protest the resulting public health mess: researchers say nearly 200,000 Texas women have lost or could lose access to contraception, cancer screenings, and basic preventive care, especially in low-income, rural parts of the state. …
Given that anti-choice legislators in other states could draw inspiration from Texas’s “winning” strategy to defund Planned Parenthood—several have tried and failed in recent years—it’s worth surveying the damage.
About a year after Texas slashed its family-planning budget by two-thirds, with 50 clinics shutting down as a result, the Texas Policy Evaluation Project surveyed 300 pregnant women seeking an abortion in Texas. Nearly half said they were “unable to access the birth control that they wanted to use” in the three months before they became pregnant. Among the reasons: cost, lack of insurance, inability to find a clinic, and inability get a prescription. The state’s health commission says Texas will see nearly 24,000 unplanned births between 2014 and 2015 thanks to these cuts, raising state and federal taxpayer’s Medicaid costs by up to $273 million.
Video reporting from the rally and more: Charts: This Is What Happens When You Defund Planned Parenthood
Think about this for a minute, especially if you are a Texan. The taxpayers of Texas will now have to pick up approximately 31.5 million dollars in services, and the bulk of those dollars will go to anti-choice church backed clinics once Planned Parenthood is taken out of the picture. Are average Texans really so backward that they think it’s ok not to have family planning that includes abortion and contraception advice that’s not packaged with religion? Are Texans really so misogynistic that they are going to let loud mouthed religious zealots set health policy for most Women in Texas?
In the latest of a series of legal proceedings about the women’s health program, a judge ruled Monday that Texas could cut off state funding from Planned Parenthood.
Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas and client Marcela Balquinta filed for a temporary restraining order to keep the provider in the new state women’s health program that is scheduled to begin on Jan. 1.
The provider will get another chance at a temporary injunction at another hearing on Jan. 11, but in the meantime, the Planned Parenthood will not be a part of the state-run women’s health program when it launches tomorrow.
Visiting Judge Gary Harger ruled that Texas may exclude the otherwise qualified provider as part of the state’s ban on abortion affiliates from the program, the Associated Press reports.
“It is shocking that once again Texas officials are letting politics jeopardize health care access for women,” said Ken S. Lambrecht, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas. “Regardless of what happens in the courts, Planned Parenthood will be here for our patients. Our doors remain open today and always to Texas women in need. We only wish Texas politicians shared this commitment to Texas women, their health, and their well being.”
Until today, the federal government paid for 90 percent of the $35 million program, but that match expired because Texas chose to switch to a state-funded version of the Medicaid Women’s Health Program that purposefully excluded Planned Parenthood as an approved provider.