In the race to crush Planned Parenthood, Texas is catching up with the pack.
Thus far, multiple states have slashed funding to the organization, including Wisconsin, North Carolina and Indiana (portions of which were recently overruled). Now, Texas has joined the pack as part of a nationwide assault on the organization. And it's the largest state to attack the organization thus far.
Earlier this month, Texas Governor and perennial presidential candidate Rick Perry signed a budget bill that cuts family planning programs by $74 million, bringing its budget down from $111 million to $37 million, or a 66 percent cut.
The nonpartisan Texas Legislative Budget Board issued a harrowing report on the cuts. In it, analysts concluded that the decimation of the family planning budget would result in 300,000 Texas women losing basic health care coverage, including tests for non-reproductive conditions. Likewise, the cuts are estimated to result in 20,000 more unplanned pregnancies.
While Texas's latest budget left nothing untouched, the real goal of the cuts to family planning, say observers, is to target Planned Parenthood and its affiliates throughout the state.
"Anti-choice lobbyists have spent the entire year confusing the facts," said Peter J. Durkin, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast in a press release. "These groups pressured lawmakers to de-fund Planned Parenthood by muddling conversations about family planning programs with false accusations that they subsidize abortion care. There is absolutely no legitimacy to their claims - and they know it.
"Aside from these organizations being anti-choice, these groups are outright anti-contraception. They used a controversial topic to advance their agenda and Texas women will pay the price," he said.
In reproductive health communities, Planned Parenthood is synonymous for providing pap smears, sexually transmitted infection tests and routine check ups, not abortions. But coordinated lobbying campaigns by anti-choice activists seeking to delegitimize the health organization worked closely with allied legislators to make it their enemy No. 1, too. Indeed, despite Planned Parenthood's wide range of health services, the anti-choice Perry has also long targeted the organization.
According to Planned Parenthood of North Texas, Planned Parenthood's health centers in Texas provide a variety of health care services to more than 263,000 Texans each year. So, to Holly Morgan, director of media relations and communications for Planned Parenthood of North Texas, targeting family planning because of misconceptions - intentional or not - about Planned Parenthood's role in providing abortions is ludicrous. "They're burning down the barn to kill the rats," she said to Truthout by phone.
Jeffrey Hons, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Trust of South Texas agreed. In a statement, Hons said, "these attacks on family planning are shortsighted, mean-spirited and make no sense from any viewpoint. The result is all bad - more abortions, and more families who will look to government for public assistance. There is nothing smart here. This is bad politics winning over wise policy."