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Texas Lawmakers Propose Budget Amendments To Defund Alternatives to Abortion Program

Texas Lawmakers Propose Budget Amendments To Defund Alternatives to Abortion Program

April 1, 2015 — Texas lawmakers have filed several amendments to the state budget (HB 1) that aim to defund the state's Alternatives to Abortion program, the Texas Tribune reports.

Program Background

The Alternatives to Abortion program offers "pregnancy and parenting information" to low-income women. Through the program, the state works with the Texas Pregnancy Care Network, which operates crisis pregnancy centers, maternity homes and adoption agencies. It has served about 110,000 individuals since September 2006.

The proposed House budget would give the program $9.15 million annually in 2016 and 2017, an increase from $5.15 million in the previous budget.

Proposed Amendments

An amendment filed by Women's Health Caucus Chair Rep. Jessica Farrar (D) would defund the program completely. She said that through the program, the state is allocating more money to "coerce women" into a "political ideology instead of providing information and services." She noted this is occurring when the state is reducing women's access to health services.

Farrar has also filed an amendment calling for an audit of the program. "I think it's troublesome that here we are going to almost double funding for a program that has not proven to be successful in any way," she said.

Other amendments to the budget would reallocate more than $8 million slated for the Alternatives to Abortion program to family planning services and programs for individuals with disabilities, according to the Tribune. State Rep. Chris Turner (D), one of the lawmakers who filed the amendments, said there is "little regulation, no accountability and no requirement to offer actual medical services" at facilities that participate in Alternatives to Abortion.

Meanwhile, conservatives have filed amendments that would increase funding for the program. One would boost funding by $3.35 million per year by cutting money from the state Commission on Environmental Quality, while a separate amendment would increase funding by $3.35 million through cuts to an arts program in the governor's office.

State Rep. Dade Phelan (R), who proposed one of the funding increases, said, "They've done a good job with what we've given over the last 10 years. I think whatever increase we can give them is well-warranted."

Another amendment would rename the program Pregnancy and Parenting Services (Ura/Walters, Texas Tribune, 3/30).