State Rep. Sarah Davis challenged a section in the state’s budget that limits the amount of funding organizations like Planned Parenthood will receive for breast and cervical cancer screenings for women.
Davis’ concern is that the federal government will take notice of what Texas politicians are doing and then stop all federal funding for the health screenings in the state, effectively forcing many women’s clinics to close their doors.
At a meeting with the authors of the state’s budget, Davis said, “I don’t think it is appropriate to continue to fund the women’s health program so that we can make some type of political statement as Republicans that we care about women, only to chip away at the safety net of the providers. If we don’t have the provider network, women cannot be served. And they will die.”
Davis, added that conservatives, like herself, should be against the government excessively intruding in women's personal lives.
"As Republicans," she said, "we have always believed in personal freedom, individual responsibility and limited government, and that is embodied in the right to make decisions over your body and who you're going to spend time with in your bedroom as well as what's in your wallet."
The proposed budget allows for funding to state, county and community health clinics to receive money first, while privately run offices would be next. Specialty clinics, such as Planned Parenthood, would remain the last group to receive funding, if there is any money left.
Other members of the state legislature voiced their support or dissent of the new system. State Sen. Jane Nelson, a Republican, said the new system will allow for centers that do not perform abortions to receive funding first. But in Texas, if health clinics perform abortions, they are banned from receiving taxpayer funding.
Other Senators disagreed with the new plan, stating their concern over the welfare of all health clinics. One of those is Sen. Armando Walle, a Democrat.
“The purpose is, and let’s just be direct, is to go after one entity, and that is Planned Parenthood,” said Walle.
Texas politicians have had a tumultuous relationship with Planned Parenthood in recent years. Many of the state’s leaders from both parties have prevented Planned Parenthood and other clinics performing abortions from receiving taxpayer funding.
There may be serious consideration given to Davis’ suggestion. The state's screening program served 34,000 women in Texas last year, with more than one-half of those Hispanic women.
Davis is known in Texas politics for separating from her party on numerous issues, especially women’s rights and abortion rights. For example, Davis voted against a strict law in 2013 that would have placed limits on abortions throughout the state.
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