The Texas House passed a two-year budget Thursday that would cut off funding to abortion groups and increase support for pregnant and parenting families.
The budget passed in a 131-16 vote, with the two pro-life amendments, and now moves to the state Senate for consideration, according to the Texas Tribune.
Texas lawmakers and pro-life advocates have been working for years to stop taxpayer funding from flowing to abortion groups like Planned Parenthood. The legislature voted in 2015 to prohibit Medicaid funding to abortion groups; however, the measure currently is blocked by a court order.
There often are multiple funding streams from which taxpayer dollars flow to Planned Parenthood and other abortion groups. Finding and cutting off all of the streams can be a long process.
The newly proposed Texas budget would block that additional funding. According to Texas Right to Life, there were several “hidden streams” in the 2016 Texas budget that gave money to abortion groups, including through the Health and Human Services Commission, Attorney General and Texas Comptroller. The funds added up to more than $500,000.
— Texas Right to Life (@TXRightToLife) April 7, 2017
Dallas News reports a provision to block those funding streams passed in a 101-43 vote.
Pro-life leaders at Texas RTL described the vote as a major victory.
“Y’all this victory is huge,” pro-life lobbyist Emily Horne said on Twitter after the vote. “It means Planned Parenthood can no longer continue to search around in the budget for taxpayer funds.”
The budget plan also would give $20 million to the state Alternatives to Abortion program, a network of pregnancy centers, maternity homes and adoption agencies that provide much-needed material support, counseling and other resources for women and babies.
Pro-abortion Democrats, who often wrongly accuse pro-lifers of not supporting children outside the womb, blasted the funding increase, the Associated Press reports.
Thursday’s 93-52 vote came after Republicans said the program had sought $35 million but was set to get less than $19 million. They argued that the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality had received extra funding it wouldn’t miss.
Democratic Rep. Rafael Anchia said the move wasn’t anti-abortion but instead “pro-birth” because “after that, you’re on your own. You’re going to have to breathe dirty air.”
Actually, the program supports women and children before and after birth.
The program provided free assistance to more than 131,000 women between 2006 and 2015. It provides free maternity and baby clothing, food and furniture, temporary shelter, referrals to community agencies and medical resources, as well as pregnancy and parenting classes, job skill training, mentoring, adoption information and more.
According to Texas Right to Life, the program is underfunded, and a number of qualified providers currently are on a waiting list to enter the program.