Texas House: We Want Abortion, Planned Parenthood De-Funded

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 15, 2011   |   5:33PM   |   Austin, TX

The Texas state House of Representatives has a message for the state Senate: we want to yank taxpayer funding for abortions and the Planned Parenthood abortion business.

The House signed off on a motion to name and instruct members of the conference committee that will work out the differences between the House and Senate versions of Senate Bill 7, a health care bill that the House added three amendments to that would stop abortion funding.

Rep. Sid Miller, a Republican, told the Austin American-Statesman that state House members are tired of the Senate watering down the pro-life provisions it has placed in bills.

“Many times during the regular session, we have put good pro-life amendments on bills only to see them stripped off (in conference),” Miller told the newspaper. “Frankly, we’ve passed these pro-life amendments with over 100 pro-life legislators in favor of them, and I for one am tired of them being stripped off.”

Miller’s motion passed 101-37, on a party line vote, and it instructed state legislators representing the House in the conference committee to protect three amendments. The amendments prohibit hospital districts, especially the district in Travis County, by engaging in contracts with abortion businesses. They require hospitals and abortion centers to report on the abortions they do, including complications of botched abortions. And they move family planning funds away from Planned Parenthood and abortion businesses and to legitimate health care centers that do not provide or refer for abortions.

The newspaper also indicated that Rep. Randy Weber, a Pearland Republican, is circulating a letter lawmakers are signing telling the Senate that they will vote against SB 7 if the pro-life provisions are removed.

The Austin-American Statesman reports that the House conferees include Reps. John Zerwas, R-Richmond, (co-chair); Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie; Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham; John Davis, R-Houston; and Veronica Gonzales, D-McAllen. Senate conferees are Sens. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, (co-chair); John Carona, R-Dallas; Bob Deuell, R-Greenville; Florence Shapiro, R-Plano; and Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen.

Texas Right to Life is pushing to de-fund Planned Parenthood and its legislative director Emily Kebodeaux recently explained that a top Texas official says the effort is legally valid.

“Very recently, Attorney General Greg Abbott released opinions ruling that our state’s Health and Human Services Commission could adopt rules for this program, and more importantly, that adopting rules does not conflict with federal Medicaid rules.  Thus, legislators interested in renewing the WHP have incorporated stricter requirements for participation in the WHP, excluding abortion providers from the program while being mindful not to step outside federal Medicaid rules,” she explained.

“By its own admission, Planned Parenthood (PP) serves almost half of the clients enrolled in the WHP, receiving tax dollars through Medicaid reimbursements for each client served.  Understandably and predictably, the bills to renew the program would indeed disqualify PP from the participation in the program since Planned Parenthood is America’s largest abortion provider.  Planned Parenthood Federation of America just issued a requirement that all clinics affiliated with its brand must now provide abortion or release affiliation with the PP brand name,” Kebodeaux said.

“The language to restrict abortion providers or agencies that are affiliated with abortion providers from the WHP is now more important than ever,” she added.