Texas takes major step to defund abortion providers

Planned Parenthood (KXAN)
Planned Parenthood (KXAN Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — During this year’s legislative session, Texas lawmakers will likely vote to cut all state funding for Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers. They could soon also cut funding to any city or county who provides support for those groups.

Public dollars are tight at Planned Parenthood. While no tax money goes to abortion procedures, through grants and formulas, tax dollars help pay for other health services.

“Patient may think she’s coming here for birth control. That’s our chance to find out if she’s had a cervical cancer screening lately, or clinical breast exam. We’re going to help detect anything she might have early,” said Sarah Wheat from Planned Parenthood in Texas.

But when the Texas House of Representatives passed their state budget, lawmakers attached an amendment banning any state dollars to go to elective abortion providers, period. That’s a $500,000 loss.

John Seago from Texas Right to Life was a major supporter of the amendment. “We’ve made really good steps in cutting them out of specific programs. Some cuts were bigger than others. This is the last step in the state funding,” said Seago.

He says the original amendment was meant to forbid state dollars to any local government that supports Planned Parenthood as well. That was whittled down budget night but he says a similar stand-alone bill is going through the process authored by Rep. Drew Springer, R-Muenster.

“There are a lot of things that can be done on a local level and that’s the next step,” said Seago.

Wheat says more hurdles mean less care for women in need.

“Many of our patients are uninsured or low income and so those are programs where we have partnered with the government for decades to make sure those services are available,” explained Wheat.

Lawmakers will soon decide if any money should go to abortion providers or only donations.

Last month, Senate lawmakers in Washington passed a measure to make it easier for states to restrict federal funds for Planned Parenthood. Vice President Mike Pence cast the tie-breaking vote to push the measure through.

Earlier this year, a federal judge ruled that Texas can’t cut off Medicaid dollars to Planned Parenthood.


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