AUSTIN - State Representative Donna Howard marked the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade by calling for a restoration of family planning funding that was slashed in the last legislative session, and for accurate information on provider access under the new Texas Women's Health Program.
"On January 22nd, we recognize the U.S. Supreme Court's momentous Roe v. Wade decision, which firmly established abortion as a legal medical option, and affirmed a woman's right to exercise reproductive control over her own body. The ruling stands as a major benchmark in ethical health policy, reducing the number of back-alley surgeries that often led to the severe damage, and sometimes death, of women across the country.
"It is unfortunate that discussions about women's health services -- which are effective in preventing abortions -- have become so polarizing. We are losing sight of the serious health consequences and fiscal costs that result from a lack of access to medical screenings, contraception, and treatment."
In 2011 the Texas Legislature cut about $73 million (roughly two-thirds) of the biennial family planning services budget. The bipartisan Legislative Budget Board estimated that these cuts would lead to 20,500 additional births, and require an additional $230 million in Medicaid expenditures.
On January 1st, the state officially exited the Medicaid Women's Health Program, forgoing a 9:1 match in federal dollars, and implemented the new Texas Women's Health Program, funded fully by state general revenue.
“Since implementing the state-funded plan, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission has touted its expanded ability to provide services for women, but the online directory of providers was so rife with errors that the agency removed the list from its web site.
“My office contacted HHSC at the end of December and received a provider list on January 18 that included numerous providers that projected suspiciously large increases in capacity, and at least one provider whose capacity was listed as growing by over twenty-thousand patients.
“If I can’t get good information, what are the odds that Texas women are getting the information they need?
"Now is the time to reach across the political divide and find common ground to ensure that Texas women have access to the medical care they need, and to accurate information about their reproductive choices - including pregnancy prevention, parenting, and adoption.
"I will continue to fight for a restoration of family planning funding, and against the repeated attempts by the Legislature to insert itself into the medical discussions between a woman and her doctor."
CONTACT: Scott M. Daigle
P.O. Box 2910