The measure's author, Sen. Tommy Williams, R-The Woodlands, said there are “more than adequate resources to meet the health care needs of women.”
"There's more than enough money in this strategy for the traditional healthcare things such as pap smears and birth control pills,” Williams said. “I don't count government-funded abortion among those services and I think that's what the difference is.”
Planned Parenthood closed its Pharr clinic Thursday, citing a $200,000 cut in state funding to its Hidalgo County chapter. The closing follows the Texas Legislature’s decision to divert $2.5 million from the Department of State Health Services’ family planning budget to an anti-abortion program, said Margaret Mendez, director for community health services at the state agency.
Planned Parenthood was one of a number of family planning providers, including university health centers and community centers, to lose funding under the deal.
With the Pharr clinic closing, around 4,000 patients, mostly low income and from the Pharr-San Juan-Alamo area, will have to seek services elsewhere, said Kathryn Hearn, community services director for Hidalgo County Planned Parenthood.
"There’s not enough money and not enough space for them," Hearn said. "Birth control, STD tests, pre-cancer screenings, these things cost money."
That money will now go to fund "pregnancy counseling clinics," where women are encouraged to give birth and not seek an abortion. While such clinics have been in Texas for some time, they have not been publicly funded until now, said Dade Phelan, spokesman for State Senator Bobby (sic) Williams, R-Woodlands, who authored the budget change and whose district lies north of Houston.
"There has always been plenty of money for family planning, but there’s nothing that addresses alternative to abortion programs," he said. "This is for women who are trying to decide whether or not to have a baby, and this will give an alternative to abortion. It’s giving them more choice."
But Hearn is critical of such clinics, saying they provide little in the way of medical services, and do little to lower the abortion rate.
"We’ve had some of our clients go these places before, and their whole function is discouraging birth control and promoting child-bearing" she said. "We also try to prevent abortions, but we’re letting people make up their own minds.
"If you have a loss of access to birth control, you’re only going to see a rise in abortions."
A site for cross-posting and posting original stories from around Texas that reveal the character of the Texas right wing. So much dirt. Such a big state.
This site brings Texas bloggers together to keep an eye on the actions of Texas right-wingers. Yes, friends. The radical conservative Republican politicians and activists who rule this state assume that nobody is watching.
They are hoping that nobody remembers Sen. John Cornyn's statements justifying violence against judges or Majority Leader Tom DeLay's zealous intervention into a private family dispute that spawned a media circus. Or Congressman Sam Johnson's intimation that he could personally nuke Syria. Or that Kay Bailey Hutchison has hired one of the "swift boat" smear architects for her gubernatorial campaign. Or that Republican corruption in the Dallas County Police Department has contributed to outrageous crime rates. Or the actions and stunts of the Young Conservatives of Texas on college campuses all across the state.
Well, they have had over ten years to lead. They haven't led. We will.
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