Texas House votes to end state funding for hospitals, clinics that perform ‘abortion related services’
The Texas House passed Thursday a measure within a Medicaid overhaul bill that removes state funding to all hospitals and clinics that perform abortions or “abortion related services.”
The bill goes a step beyond a similar law in Indiana that was recently signed into law by Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels — which only takes state and federal funding away from Planned Parenthood but not hospitals or emergency clinics (the Indiana law is intended for all abortion clinics that also provide family planning services, but Planned Parenthood clinics were the only ones receiving Medicaid and grant funding).
The Texas measure is the result of an amendment (PDF) attached to Senate Bill 23, which addressed Medicaid funding and disbursements. The Houston Chronicle described SB 23 as being “convoluted,” even without the “obscure” amendment. The daily reported that the more than four-hour, “tense” floor debate Thursday included 114 pages of changes to the Medicaid funding bill.
The Houston Chronicle:
Plainview Republican Rep. Jim Landtroop sponsored the amendment freezing state funding for facilities that perform abortions. He amended his own amendment to exclude abortion-related services in the cases of medical emergencies, but only after strenuous objections from Democratic opponents.
“It’s not my intent to punish hospitals,” Landtroop said. “It’s to protect the lives of unborn children.”
Democrat Donna Howard responded, “I’m getting a little tired of men speaking for women’s health.”
In a 95-45 vote (two representatives voted “present” and one did not vote), the House approved the medicaid funding bill, which, according to the Chronicle, is an attempt to expand the privatization of Medicaid services, in addition to addressing other issues related to the efficiency, funding and “fraud-prevention” measures of Medicaid and other health-benefits programs.
From the Texas Tribune:
Many Democrats raised concerns about the language of the amendment, saying it would have far-reaching effects beyond his intention to “save unborn children.” At first their concerns caused Landtroop to withdraw the amendment and tighten the language to exclude medical emergencies. They said the wording of the amendment could potentially cut off state funding for any hospital that has given a woman a sonogram, prescribed the morning-after pill or helped a woman after a botched “back alley” abortion, which could technically be abortion-related services, they said. ”You may not intend it that way, but when you read your amendment, [it] includes those types of services,” said veteran Democrat and lawyer Sylvester Turner.
More state legislatures are demonstrating the desire to prevent entities that provide abortions from receiving state and federal funding for any services they provide. Yet, in recent polls, voters have come out against this defunding-for-family-planning trend.
A February poll conducted by NBC and the Wall Street Journal asked 1,000 American adults point-blank how they felt about eliminating funding to Planned Parenthood for family planning and preventive health services. In the 20-page survey published by the Wall Street Journal in March, the results show that 21 percent of those surveyed said it was “totally acceptable” to eliminate the funding; 24 percent said it was “mostly acceptable”; 26 percent said it was mostly unacceptable; and 27 percent said it was “totally unacceptable.”
More recently, Planned Parenthood Federation of America commissioned a Texas-based poll from Public Policy Polling (PDF), which showed that 56 percent of Texas voters support continued funding by the state to family planning health care for low-income women. In addition, the poll revealed that 57 percent of respondents believe Planned Parenthood should continue to provide services for women enrolled in the Women’s Health Program, which likely will not be renewed due to a recent amendment by Sen. Bob Deuell (R-Greenville) to keep any abortion provider or affiliate from participating in the program.