Texas could restore some family planning funds that were cut from the state’s budget during the last legislative session.
The funding could be added to primary care instead. Republican state senators are proposing an additional $100 million toward a state-run primary care program geared toward women’s health services.
The effort by Republicans could end the ongoing political fight over funding to specialty family-planning clinics, reports The New York Times.
Financing family planning services using taxpayer dollars has been a sensitive subject for years. The state was penalized last year when it wiped out its Women’s Health Services program over fears that the money was going to pay for abortions.
Clinics like Planned Parenthood lost their state funding, despite assuring the Legislature that no state funds are allowed to go toward abortions. Previously the Legislature cut two-thirds of the funding from the state’s family planning budget.
As a result of the cuts, researchers from the University of Texas at Austin found that more than 50 family planning clinics were forced to close.
Salon notes that the Health and Human Services Commissions projected that unplanned pregnancies as a result of the funding cuts will add $273 million in costs to taxpayers. In addition, the Texas Legislative Budget Board also predicted a higher rate of unplanned pregnancies.
The board predicted that the cuts would lead to 284,000 women losing their family planning services. As a result, the state could expect to see an additional 20,000 unplanned births, which would cost the state about $200 million.
The proposal to add the money to a primary care program would not necessarily earmark it for family planning, according to health care advocates. Still, they are hopeful that the proposal will go through. Jose Camacho, executive director of the Texas Association of Community Health Centers, stated of the proposal:
“This new way, hopefully, will invest money in infrastructure to rebuild what the unintended consequences – the impact of the cuts – have been.”
Elizabeth Graham, director of Texas Right to Life, added, “The goal has always been to keep the funds out of the abortion industry.” Therefore, they will also investigate primary providers to make sure none of the new proposed funds would go toward an organization that also performs abortions.
Do you think Texas should restore family planning funds to a separate budget, or should they be added to primary care services?
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