It was bad enough that Texas lawmakers in 2011 cut funding for family planning services for low-income women by two-thirds. Scores of family planning clinics closed around the state, and tens of thousands of women lost access to those critical services. But now the Texas Observer reports that the state even failed to spend federal grant funds that were available for family planning.
The Texas Freedom Network has been working throughout the current legislative session to help restore funding to family planning programs. A statewide poll conducted in February for the TFN Education Fund found that 73 percent of registered voters support state funding for those services, including birth control, for low-income women. This makes sense for Texas taxpayers. The Texas Health and Human Services commissioner has estimated that the deep cuts made in 2011 could result in 23,760 additional births covered by Medicaid in 2014-15. That would cost taxpayers an additional $273 million.
Providing state funding for birth control and family planning is also simply the right thing to do. The freedom of women to decide when or if to have children is essential to women’s health, individual rights and family stability in our state. Policies that restrict or deny access to birth control undermine our moral commitment to these basic liberties.
With lawmakers in the final two weeks of the session, we’re encouraged that the state House and Senate have each passed budgets that restore family planning funds. But final votes on the state’s budget are still to come. Stay tuned.