Texas lawmakers are trying to strip Planned Parenthood clinics of funding that goes to breast and cervical cancer screenings for poor women because, as always, abortion. Not that a dime of taxpayer money ever -- ever -- pays for abortions at Planned Parenthood or anywhere else. But this is Texas, where as far as the Legislature is concerned Planned Parenthood is nothing but abortion, abortion, abortion.
Health clinics in Texas provide breast and cervical cancer screenings to uninsured women under a federally funded program, and the money goes to clinics based on need in the surrounding area. But a proposed change in the Senate budget would rearrange how the funding is given out and distribute it more or less based on whether or not the clinic in question is Planned Parenthood. State, county and other public clinics would get the top priority for receiving the funds, while "non-public" clinics like Planned Parenthood would fall to the bottom. Along with, as usual, poor women.
State Senator Jane Nelson authored the proposal. She was was recently named the "Citizen of the Year" in Flower Mound, a town that last year had an official "Year of the Bible." Take from that what you will.
Nelson has been upfront about the abortion-related point of her budget. "There are many members that feel very strongly that the facilities that receive funding should not be facilities for performing abortions, so the answer is, don't perform abortions and you get the money," Nelson told The Texas Tribune. "It's a tiered system. We're getting the money to those facilities that are delivering services and not performing abortions."
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It's nice that Texas still wants to keep the cancer-screening money, but Planned Parenthood argues that it makes much more sense to distribute the money the current way, based on need. In Waco, for instance, the Planned Parenthood clinic is the only one that provides breast and cervical cancer screenings to uninsured women. "If those funds go away in some of the communities we serve, then we've got women who don't know where to go," says Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas spokesman Sarah Wheat.
Texas has displayed a knack for accepting federal money but not letting it go to Planned Parenthood. Four years ago, the Legislature slashed the state's family planning budget in order to kick Planned Parenthood out of the the Medicaid Women's Health Program. The state then started its own Texas Women's Health Program that excluded Planned Parenthood.
Send your story tips to the author, Amy Silverstein.