December 10, 2012 — Texas lawmakers are considering ways to restore funding for family planning services in light of new state data indicating a potential rise in births to low-income women, the Texas Tribune/New York Times reports.
State lawmakers in 2011 approved a two-year budget that moved $73 million previously allocated for family planning services to other programs.
Recent data from the state Health and Human Services Commission projected that low-income women in 2014 and 2015 will have 23,760 more infants because of reduced access to subsidized birth control under the new policy. The expected rise in births will cost taxpayers $273 million and account for $103 million to $108 million of the state's general revenue budget, the majority of which will be spent on caring for the infants through Medicaid.
A bipartisan coalition is considering ways to restore some or all of the funding in the next legislative session, during which lawmakers will have to address an existing Medicaid budget shortfall. An agreement likely would exclude Planned Parenthood from receiving funding, in compliance with a state law that excludes affiliates of abortion providers from the state's family planning program.
Sen. Bob Deuell (R) -- who advocated against Planned Parenthood receiving public dollars -- said that last session's family planning cuts were extreme. He said that some of Texas' leading antiabortion groups have expressed support for setting aside more money for birth control and reproductive health care in 2013, both as stand-alone services and as part of a $70 million expansion of state-subsidized primary care. Deuell said, "[Y]ou have to look at what happens if we don't" provide family planning services (Ramshaw, Texas Tribune/New York Times, 12/7).