Texas Quietly Works To Restore Funding For Women’s Health

If you’re like me, you might be doing a double take. Take your time. Pause. Read the headline again. Your brain has not jumbled the words. It does say restore, not restrict.

If you’ve been following the gradual dismantling of access to family planning and women’s health services across the United States, you’re probably shocked and excited by this news. Texas is still trying to restrict access to abortion with new clinic regulations and a so-called “fetal pain” bill, but in terms of family planning and basic access to women’s healthcare, legislators are biting their tongues and working quickly and quietly to restore the funding that they dismantled in flamboyant fashion in 2011.

According to The New York Times, State Representative Sarah Davis (R) said, “The major difference is we’re not fighting about it. We’re just doing what’s right for women and the state.”  Davis, who is against legal abortion, is the only Republican member of the House Women’s Health Caucus. She helped the two sides come together in a compromise. She attributes this compromise to the reaction of voters who were more than peeved that non-abortion providing clinics closed in their districts.

In 2011, after legislation cut funding for family planning services (an attempt to stop Planned Parenthood clinics from receiving government funds), 117 clinics stopped receiving state funding and 56 clinics closed. According to researchers at the University of Texas at Austin, it was estimated that “144,000 fewer women received health services and 30,000 fewer unintended pregnancies were averted in 2012 than in 2010. The state’s savings from the programs dropped by an estimated $163 million.”

Other anti-choice legislators also seemed to realize the value in providing healthcare for women, including Representative Bob Deuell, who is also a primary care physician. He still doesn’t believe in funding Planned Parenthood, but he has recognized the duh fact that cutting family planning services can mean more unwanted pregnancies and thus more abortions. Also, cutting these services makes it absurdly difficult to obtain a Pap smear, as our Hitched columnist Andrea Grimes, who lives in Texas, experienced firsthand.

I would love love love if these same lawmakers would realize that they have no business controlling a woman’s right to choose. Maybe someday they’ll understand that 1 in 3 women will have an abortion before the age of 45, women can only travel so far at their own expense to have the procedure done, and if they cannot easily and affordably access a clinic they’ll seek illegal/unregulated or dangerous options. (Google the words “Kermit Gosnell” or just read this piece.) But today I’ll just be glad that the Texas House of Representatives is doubling family planning funds to $75 million, and the State Senate plans to increase theirs by $43 million, according to the Times.  I’m also glad to see $100 million going to the state-run primary care for women, and $71 million to the Texas Women’s Health Program.

Maybe in a couple years, other states, like Arkansas, KansasMinnesota, and Ohio, will begin reversing their policies that restrict abortion and defund sex education.

[New York Times]
[Think Progress]

Email me at [email protected]