Texas Battle Continues to De-Fund Planned Parenthood Abortion Biz

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 17, 2011   |   1:33PM   |   Austin, TX

The battle in Texas is continuing to de-fund the Planned Parenthood abortion business by diverting $61.7 million in family planning funds away from it and towards other more legitimate programs.

In April, the Texas House of Representatives overwhelmingly adopted eight different amendments to redirect the funding and it was careful not to move additional family planning funds, leaving $104 million untouched in family planning required for complete compliance with federal spending mandates. More than 300 non-abortion agencies across the state qualify to provide family planning services and they do not do abortions or refer for them.

The move makes it so House Bill 1 could be the most pro-life budget Texas legislators have ever passed, but Elizabeth Graham, the director of Texas Right to Life, says the effort could be in jeopardy.

“Some legislators on the budget conference committee want to restore a huge revenue stream to the abortion industry,” Graham told LifeNews in an email. “Our sources in the Legislature told Texas Right to Life that efforts were underway to restore the $61.7 million to family planning that was removed by overwhelming majorities in the State House. However, due to immediate pushback by our Pro-Life elected representatives, the conference committee last night left the final amount for family planning programs pending.”

She is urging pro-life advocates to contact members of the House Bill 1 Conference Committee and urge them to keep both the Williams Senate rider and the House family planning cuts in the state budget.

“State and federal dollars should go to health care providers who do not provide or refer for abortion,” she said. “While the amount of funds allocated to family planning has steadily increased over the years, 81,851 women in Texas still chose abortion in 2008, the last year for which data is available.  Our tax dollars should not go to the abortion industry under the guise of family planning.”

“Furthermore, any woman seeking contraception should certainly not be going to an abortion clinic for such purpose, especially when Planned Parenthood makes hundreds of millions selling abortions nationwide as the largest provider of abortion in Texas and America,” Graham continued. “When Texas faces such dramatic shortfalls in the budget, Texas Right to Life finds no excuse acceptable for our elected officials to not adopt both the Williams rider and the $61.7 million reallocated away from family planning in the state budget.  If there is any money “found,” such money can certainly be put to a better use.”

Meanwhile, Planned Parenthood is opposing a second effort to shift state taxpayer dollars away from it. The organization has sent a letter to Texas lawmakers and political leaders threatening to file a lawsuit against the state if it adopts SB 1854 by Senator Robert Deuell that would ban Planned Parenthood from continued
participation in the Medicaid Women’s Health Program and encourage women to choose from one of hundreds of non-abortion Medicaid health clinics instead.

“We must respectfully inform you that if Section (i), or similar language, is passed by the Texas Legislature and signed into law by the Governor, Planned Parenthood is obligated to sue the State of Texas,” the letter threatens.

The Senate Health and Human Services committee approved, earlier this month, a measure to fund health programs for poor women on a 5-1 vote and it includes a provision Deuell sponsored making it so none of the funds authorized under the program would be available for any groups that perform abortions.

To combat the threat of a lawsuit, Deuell’s provision makes it so the entire Demonstration Project for Women’s Health Care Services health program is shut down if an abortion business files and wins a lawsuit against the provision preventing funding.

“The legislature has clearly tried to cut off funding for these entities, only to have it restored by lawsuit,” Deuell told AP in an interview. “We do not want this to happen again … if abortion providers are able to sue and win — they have to win the suit — the program will cease to operate.”

“We tried to find other ways to do it and just could not,” Deuell says.

In a ruling this February, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said existing law prohibits the Health and Human Services Commission from contracting with “affiliates” of clinics that provide elective abortion services.

ACTION: Contact Texas lawmakers at https://www.capitol.state.tx.us to urge de-funding of Planned Parenthood.