Last week, the Texas House debated the Texas State budget for twelve hours with the uneasy promise of a truce on taxpayer dollars going to the abortion industry. Before Budget Day even began, lawmakers scrambled to avoid controversial amendments dealing with abortion and family planning funding.
Texas Right to Life met with Chairman Jim Pitts (R-Waxahachie), chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, to discuss strategy. Of the 267 amendments proposed to the budget, twelve were pro-abortion, and one amendment was Pro-Life. After a long day of meetings, the amendment authors promised to withdraw all these amendments so as to avoid volatile dialogue on the House floor.
"We're trying to prevent women's health from continuing to be a political football," said Jessica Farrar (D-Houston), the most vocal pro-abortion Representative in the Texas House.
Of the 12 pro-abortion amendments, six were filed by Representative Farrar. The others belonged to Chris Turner (D-Grand Prairie), Mary Gonzalez (D-Clint), and Lon Burnam (D-Fort Worth), all intending to reverse the Pro-Life rules in the budget bill or to defund the state’s Alternatives to Abortion Program.
Representative Sarah Davis (R-West University Place) told the media she persuaded her Democratic colleagues to withdraw their amendments under the rationale that opening the floor for debate might inadvertently lead to successful efforts to strip family planning funding.
The budget bill still goes through the conference committee process, which is the final revision. Texas Right to Life will be closely monitoring the committee report to ensure that the Pro-Life provisions reach Governor Perry’s desk intact.
The relevant provisions in the state’s budget bill are as follows:
• $75,280,565 for family planning in the Department of State Health Services; mostly state funds or general revenue.
• Pro-Life Priority Rider that instructs the Department of State Health Services in which order to award family planning grants.
• $100,000,000 in Community Primary Care Services Program earmarked for women’s services including preventative care like family planning and cancer screens; all state funding.
• Pro-Life Rider that restricts funds from abortion providers or affiliates of abortion providers.
• $71,268,654 in the Texas Women’s Health Program; state funds; governed by Pro-Life rules that keep abortion providers and affiliates out of the program.
• $8,300,000 for the state’s Alternatives to Abortion Program.
• A ban on the use of taxpayer dollars for embryonic stem cell research in higher education institutions and medical centers.