The Texas State House passed a two-year budget last Thursday that cuts $61 million in tax dollars to Planned Parenthood and provides funds to pro-life crisis pregnancy programs.
After heated debate lasting into the night, the state House passed a two-year, $218 billion budget in a 131-16 vote.
The proposed budget does not “defund” Planned Parenthood in Texas. State lawmakers tried to do that in 2015 by prohibiting Medicaid funding to groups that commit abortions, but a court order blocked that legislation.
What the proposed budget does cut off are “hidden streams” of taxpayer dollars to Planned Parenthood, such as through the Health and Human Services Commission, the Attorney General and the Texas Comptroller.
The proposed budget allocates $20 million for the state’s “Alternatives to Abortion” program, a network of pro-life crisis pregnancy centers, maternity homes and adoption agencies that provide care for mothers and their babies, in and out of the womb.
The Alternatives to Abortion program gave free assistance to more than 131,000 pregnant women between 2006 and 2015 with a confidential pregnancy hotline, a pregnancy care network website, maternity and baby clothing, car seats, diapers, formula, food, furniture, temporary shelter, and referrals to community agencies and medical resources.
The pro-life program also offers pregnancy and parenting classes, job skill training, GED classes, mentoring, and adoption information.
“Y’all, this victory is huge,” pro-life activist Emily Horne tweeted. “It means Planned Parenthood can no longer continue to search around in the budget for taxpayer funds.”
“The Republican Party of Texas commends these members for their unwavering commitment to life,” the Texas GOP stated in a press release. “Representatives Dwayne Bohac, Warren Chisum, Wayne Christian, Bryan Hughes, Jodie Laubenberg, Sid Miller, Jim Murphy, Charles Perry, Randy Weber, and Bill Zedler are all to be applauded for their cooperative efforts. This alliance of conservatives ensured that fewer taxpayer dollars go to abortion procedures.”
“Taxpayers have let us know they do not want their money to go to abortion providers,” Texas GOP Chairman Steve Munisteri said. “These Republicans responded to that call … These members additionally realized the number of unborn lives at stake, and acted effectively.”
Hundreds of amendments were proposed, debated and voted on. To arrive at the $20 million for the state’s Alternatives to Abortion group, legislators diverted the money from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. Pro-life representatives Mike Schofield, R-Katy, and Matt Krause, R-Fort Worth, reasoned that the air quality regulator was receiving more tax dollars than they requested. The amendment passed 92-50.
The House’s proposed budget is now in the hands of the state Senate, which is led by pro-life Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick. The Senate will come up with its own version and then a committee will hammer out the differences in a final compromise.