Texas Gov. Perry Has Track Record of Cutting Women's Health Programs

September 20, 2011 — Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) and lawmakers in the state have cut funding for family planning clinics by about two-thirds this year, a move that is "less about saving money and more about abortion and contraception," according to NPR's "Morning Edition." About $8.4 million of the funding has been reallocated to crisis pregnancy centers, which do not offer contraception, abortion referrals or medical care.

State Rep. Wayne Christian (R) said, "Well of course this is a war on birth control and abortions and everything, that's what family planning is supposed to be about." Many Republicans refer to the 71 family planning clinics in Texas that receive government funding as "abortion clinics," even though none provides abortion care.

In addition to birth control, the family planning clinics provide women with Pap tests, breast cancer screenings, and care for diabetes, thyroid disorders, anemia and high cholesterol, according to Celia Neavel, a physician who runs the People's Clinic in East Austin. For many women, visits to the family planning clinic are the only time they get medical care.

The family planning cuts will not save the state money in the long run, "Morning Edition" reports. Texas estimates that about 300,000 women will lose access to family planning services, which will result in about 20,000 additional unplanned births. The state already spends about $1.3 billion on teen pregnancies, which is more than any other state.

Under Perry, Texas lawmakers also have dropped hundreds of thousands of low-income and working-class state residents from Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Programs. Nearly 6.5 million Texas residents are uninsured, most of whom have full-time jobs. Health insurers, largely unregulated in Texas, have raised premiums by 105% in the last 10 years, prompting many employers to raise employee contributions or drop coverage altogether (Goodwyn, "Morning Edition," NPR, 9/20).