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Health Journal Sounds Alarm Over Texas Cuts to Family Planning

The Texas Legislature passed a measure in 2011 stripping federal Medicaid funds from clinics providing women's health services, including family planning. (Wikipedia Commons)
The Texas Legislature passed a measure in 2011 stripping federal Medicaid funds from clinics providing women's health services, including family planning. (Wikipedia Commons)
October 30, 2017

HOUSTON, Texas — A major public health journal says publicly funded family-planning programs are under attack, and Texas lawmakers are leading the charge.

The American Journal of Public Health, in an editorial in its October edition, said it is alarmed by the number of legislative assaults on the country's family-planning safety net. It contends that while there is concern over federal policies, a growing number of states are following the Texas Legislature's lead in defunding clinics providing women's health services.

Elizabeth Nash, senior state issues manager with the Guttmacher Institute, said conservative lawmakers in Texas are on a mission.

"The Legislature has not only been looking to essentially eliminate access to abortion in Texas, but they're also looking to dramatically reduce access to family-planning services,” Nash said. "It really is an all-out attack on reproductive health services across the state of Texas."

The editorial said in 2011, Texas legislative leaders, backed by social conservatives, ended Medicaid-funded family-planning services and created a state-funded program that specifically excluded Planned Parenthood and others providing abortion services in addition to family planning. Lawmakers said they passed the measure to "protect women's health."

Nash said when other conservative states saw what Texas was doing, they quickly followed suit.

"In Texas, half of the abortion clinics closed. Similarly, abortion clinics have been closing because of restrictions in Ohio and Arizona and Tennessee and Virginia,” she said. "So, Texas is really a poster child for these kinds of policies."

The Institute estimated, ironically, that services provided by those clinics could have prevented about 450,000 abortions. Nash said conservatives are getting their way in Texas because the GOP holds an uncontested majority.

"Because Texas is Texas, it is large geographically, it is huge in population, it has a huge political impact, and people look to it for all sorts of cultural and political reasons,” Nash said.

The Guttmacher Institute is a research and policy organization that advances sexual and reproductive health and rights in the U.S. and around the world.

Mark Richardson, Public News Service - TX