Uproar In Texas Over New Budget Bill And Women’s Health

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A new Texas state budget bill will allocate $260.9 million of state funds to women’s programs in Texas that provide preventative health services and screenings for breast and cervical cancer. Since its passage, members of Planned Parenthood have been protesting the budget bill and imploring Governor Greg Abbott’s veto.

In a House-Senate conference committee last month, Texas approved a budget bill titled “House Bill (HB) 1” that allocated $50 million — in addition to $113 million from last session — to the Texas Women’s Health Program (TWHP), the Expanded Primary Health Care Program and the Family Planning Program.

Also under HB 1, the state’s Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening (BCCS) program is funded at $23.7 million. However, in order to receive state funding, providers must be eligible to take part in the TWHP, which bars abortion providers and their affiliates.

Planned Parenthood and its supporters’ objection is that HB 1 would not only cut all funding for abortion services, but also minimizes women’s access to cancer screenings.

Leading the charge for Planned Parenthood is 20-year-old Sadie Hernandez, who said in an interview with the The Daily Texan, “Katy [Waters-Cofer, community outreach specialist at Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas] told me [Texas lawmakers] were trying to reduce access to early breast and cervical cancer screenings here for women in Texas.”

Since last Thursday Hernandez, along with other Planned Parenthood members, have protested outside the Governor’s Mansion.

The legislator heading the bill on the other side of the debate is Texas Finance Chairman and Republican state Senator Jane Nelson who last week was named the Women’s Health Hero — for the second consecutive legislative session — by the Texas Women’s Healthcare Coalition for Nelson’s “outstanding leadership…new funding for women’s preventive healthcare…and dedication to this cause.”

“This budget adds $50 million to help more Texas women access important preventive health services,” Senator Nelson said in a statement to The Daily Caller. “Texans have made it abundantly clear that they do not want their tax dollars flowing to abortion providers and their affiliates.”

In response to the protests on access to cancer screenings, the budget bill integrated a rider which will guarantee an option for breast and cervical cancer screenings in every region of the state.

Any provider — including Planned Parenthood — will receive state funding in areas where the government is unable to find another clinic that will perform cancer screenings.

“The flexibility in these riders,” Senator Nelson told The Daily Caller, “will make sure that women in every corner of this state can get the care they need.”

Yvonne Gutierrez, Executive Director of Planned Parenthood Texas Votes stated last month, “Senator Jane Nelson…[has] made clear that [she] prioritize[s] politics over protecting access to life saving cancer screenings for Texas women,” reported The Texas Tribune — a local publication for which Planned Parenthood has been a corporate sponsor.

Governor Abbott’s decision deadline on vetoing the budget bill is June 21.

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