Women's Health Program in Texas: A Primer
Over the course of the last year, The Texas Tribune has reported extensively on the state's massive cuts to family planning services. This week, federal funding for the Medicaid Women's Health Program will end. See our chronological coverage of this issue, and check back often for updates.
- Jan. 19, 2011 — The Trib compiles a summary of the Legislative Budget Board's recommendations for how to save and raise money to help balance the 2012-13 budget and make the state function more efficiently. Within LBB's Government Effectiveness and Efficiency Recommendations is a suggestion that the Legislature "continue and expand the Medicaid Women’s Health Program. Expanding a program that uses preventative screenings to avoid pregnancy-related Medicaid costs would save $3.8 million in the next biennium."
- Feb. 17, 2011 — In the midst of the session, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott delivers two opinions intended to boot Planned Parenthood from the Women's Health Program. The organization's supporters are stunned by the decision because it treats nearly half of the program's patients and are the beneficiaries of nearly 40 percent of claim reimbursements.
- Feb. 25, 2011 — During a TribLive conversation with Evan Smith, state Rep. John Zerwas, R-Simonton, warns against defunding providers of women's health services as an unintended consequence of defunding abortion providers.
- March 8, 2012 — Pro-Planned Parenthood lawmakers and supporters rally at the Capitol. "We need a limited government and particularly when it deals with my body," says state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio. Republican lawmakers like state Rep. Sid Miller say faith-based organizations and education efforts can replace Planned Parenthood's role in the state.
- March 17, 2011 — As the hostility toward Planned Parenthood becomes more apparent mid-session, the Trib interviews Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Cecile Richards about the possibility her organization will be booted from the Women's Health Program.
- April 7, 2011 — During the initial House debate over the state budget, family planning and Women's Health Program funding come under attack by anti-abortion lawmakers. Instead of following the LBB's recommendation to increase funding for those services, the Trib's Emily Ramshaw reports, lawmakers consider a 20 percent cut. "Over the course of several amendments, that funding was cut another 60 percent, leaving $38 million in the program."
- April 8, 2011 — In Executive Editor Ross Ramsey's column, he points out that "in a series of amendment forays, House conservatives raided the state’s family planning programs and sent the money to other areas like autism programs, crisis pregnancy centers and mental health services for children."
- May 3, 2011 — The Trib's Becca Aaronson covers the introduction of a bill that would officially exclude Planned Parenthood from the Women's Health Program. Sen. Bob Deuell, R-Greenville, says it's time to enforce explicit restrictions set forth in the original bill that participating clinics not be affiliates that "perform or promote abortions." Deuell's bill includes a "poison pill" or "self-destruct" provision that states the program will be eliminated if any family planning clinic were to successfully sue the state to be included in the program.
- May 11, 2011 — Planned Parenthood begins to fight back by heading to the Capitol and by holding a press conference with supporters. Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards, daughter of the late Texas Gov. Ann Richards, makes a special appearance.
- May 12, 2011 — Republican State Sen. Bob Deuell, R-Greenville, says he doesn't have the votes to bring up a bill to renew the Women's Health Program in Texas. A back-up plan by State Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, the author of the original bill that was vetoed by Gov. Perry in 2001 (passed in 2005, and launched in 2007), also appears to be going nowhere. "Is [the Women's Health Program] dead? I hope not... But it's definitely on life support."
- May 23, 2011 — "Apparently the anti-abortion movement has morphed into the anti-contraception movement," says Sen. Robert Deuell. State Reps. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, and Wayne Christian, R-Center, face off on the proposed cuts to family planning services. Christian argues ladies can go to non-Planned Parenthood clinics that offer more comprehensive care.
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