A colleague of ours working in the Texas legislature and wishing to remain anonymous has sent a report detailing efforts to eliminate funding for birth control in the state.
The colleague writes:
The Texas Legislature has been meeting since January to debate a grim budget prospective for the next two years. In a session where money is tight and there are many losers, women are losing the most.
According to reports, anti-choice groups in the state and the Republican party are working to ensure that it will be "next-to-impossible for low-income women to have access to healthcare and contraceptives through state-funded family planning services."
Republicans have continued to chip away at funding for family planning until there is virtually nothing left. They say that it’s about defunding Planned Parenthood and ending abortion, but there is no better way to end abortion than to engage in family planning [to reduce unintended pregnancies.]
"So what does this mean for Texas?" the colleague asks?
With no access to family planning services women will not be able to afford birth control which means the unplanned pregnancy rate will go up. This also means the abortion rate will go up because 50 percent of unplanned pregnancies end in abortion. Of the births that come to term most will be paid for through Medicaid which means an estimated increase of $300 million to the Texas Medicaid budget over the next 2 years.
"In Texas," this colleague writes, "there are only 8 Planned Parenthood clinics and there are 78 stand-alone family planning clinics that have NOTHING to do with abortion, never have and never will. Those 78 family planning clinics have prevented 80,000 abortions over the last 2 years."
Anti-choice groups do a lot of talking about ending abortions but these family planning clinics are actually doing something tangible about ending abortions. If the funding for family planning is not restored in the state budget these stand-alone family planning clinics will be forced to close leaving no other alternative for women than Planned Parenthood.
As Andrea Grimes recently wrote in a piece for RH Reality Check investigating claims by anti-choice groups that women will find alternatives to services provided by family planning clinics:
Without Planned Parenthood and family planning funding that funds actual medical centers—not crisis pregnancy centers or adoption agencies, as may happen in Texas after this year’s budget--poor, uninsured and under-insured women in my city do not generally have access to quality reproductive health care in any real way. They sit on waiting lists for weeks and months, and that’s if they can take time off work to do what I did: spend a morning surfing the internet, finding phone numbers and addresses of health clinics and hospitals, calling them only to be put on hold, laughed at or hung up on, and if they do find the a clinic, leaving a message in hopes of getting a return call to schedule appointment.
Our colleague writes:
"If you believe that women have a right to control when they have a child and to access birth control--if you believe women are human beings with human rights--please call your State Senator & State Representative. Your voice will make a difference. Calls must be made before this Friday, May 27, 2011. To find out who your State Senator & State Representatives are go to http://www.fyi.legis.state.tx.us/"
For more reading from the press on this issue try the following links: