With teen pregnancies and abortion on the rise, it seems that Texas’ ideological war on women’s reproductive services is backfiring – big time.
The Texas legislature has made a concerted effort to defund the Department of State Health Services. Starting in 2012, the legislature has defunded family planning and birth control clinics and cut off funding for centers such as Planned Parenthood. In 2011 the budget was cut by two-thirds or by 76 million dollars. The Austin Chronicle reported that in 2011 the clinics served around 200,000 people, and the following year with budget cuts, they were able to serve around 60,000 people.
The budget cuts hit not only Planned Parenthood, they also closed down more than 80 family planning clinics. These clinics provided access to women’s preventive health care as well as low cost birth control methods. Available birth control at reasonable and low costs is what helps keep unplanned births low, especially for teens.
The Texas Legislature, in their infinite wisdom and guided by the religious right, had the dream of stamping out abortion by defunding family planning clinics. Clinics such as Planned Parenthood provide women’s health services as well as abortions. The abortions did not use state allocated funds.
However, instead of stomping on abortions, in the 3 years since the defunding, teen abortions rose 3.1% and teen births rose 3.4%
Texas has become ground zero for the war on women’s health and reproductive rights as well as the nationwide defense of women’s rights. After Texas saw a 50% drop in health clinic clients receiving Title X funds for family planning services (after the 2011 cuts), the Obama Administration bypassed the state and provided funds to the Women’s Health and Family Planning Association of Texas to distribute to 100 clinics statewide.
The Texas state legislature is slated to meet on July 18 in a special session to further destroy access to reproductive health care and Planned Parenthood. Gov. Greg Abbott has included a slew of anti-choice measures in his ambitious 20-point agenda, including a ban on private abortion insurance coverage and preventing local governments from allocating any tax dollars to abortion providers or affiliates. Even with evidence showing their politically motivated goals aren’t being met, it’s a safe bet anti-choice lawmakers will continue to wreak havoc on health care, facts be damned.