Texas Legislators Attack Planned Parenthood And Raise Total Government Spending

By Donald A. Collins | 13 December 2012
Church and State

Seven months ago, the influential anti-abortion advocacy group Americans United for Life released its annual report, Defending Life 2012, featuring an enthusiastic blurb from Texas Governor Rick Perry, who called the report “ammunition in a fight that is far from over.”

Again we learn of how a reduction in family planning expenditures makes any budget minded conservative government spending cutter blanch with astonishment at the stupidity of people stuck in their ideological positions so deeply that nothing else matters.

Thanks to Joe Bish at Population Media Center, we are offered two news stories related to the state of Texas which amply demonstrate the sad negation of a basic government spending point which has been documented time and time again by such reputable research sources as the Guttmacher Institute: If you invest a dollar in family planning programs you save several times that amount in other government expenditures.

As Bish notes, “If you will recall, the Texas legislature got a bit feverish late last year, working pell mell and helter skelter to defund Planned Parenthood — seemingly at all costs. But, we can suppose, costs are easier to bear when they are still just ideas. As of now, though, some actual bills are soon to come due.”

So, these legislative worthies, as Joe says, “Did not fully grasp the implication of what was done in the last session”.

Joe cites two newspaper pieces worth repeating just to underline the folly of its actions.

Likely Increase in Births Has Some Lawmakers Revisiting Cuts
New York Times
Published: December 7, 2012

When state lawmakers passed a two-year budget in 2011 that moved $73 million from family planning services to other programs, the goal was largely political: halt the flow of taxpayer dollars to Planned Parenthood clinics.

Now they are facing the policy implications — and, in some cases, reconsidering.

The latest Health and Human Services Commission projections being circulated among Texas lawmakers indicate that during the 2014-15 biennium, poor women will deliver an estimated 23,760 more babies than they would have, as a result of their reduced access to state-subsidized birth control. The additional cost to taxpayers is expected to be as much as $273 million — $103 million to $108 million to the state’s general revenue budget alone — and the bulk of it is the cost of caring for those infants under Medicaid.

Ahead of the next legislative session, during which lawmakers will grapple with an existing Medicaid financing shortfall, a bipartisan coalition is considering ways to restore some or all of those family planning dollars, as a cost-saving initiative if nothing else.

“I know some of my colleagues felt like in retrospect they did not fully grasp the implications of what was done last session,” said Representative Donna Howard, Democrat of Austin, who said she had been discussing ways to restore financing with several other lawmakers in both parties.

She added, “I think there is some effort they’ll be willing to make to restore whatever we can.”

Any such agreement would almost certainly exclude Planned Parenthood from future financing. Though the Planned Parenthood clinics that used to provide state-subsidized care never performed abortions, Republican lawmakers are enforcing rules in the state’s family planning programs that ban providers “affiliated” with clinics that perform abortions. (By this logic, because some Planned Parenthood clinics provide abortions, none of them can receive state money.)

Senator Bob Deuell, Republican of Greenville, has been an advocate for getting Planned Parenthood off taxpayer financing, but he said last session’s family planning cuts had gone too far. He said he had the support of some of Texas’ leading anti-abortion groups to seek more money for birth control and reproductive health care in 2013 — as stand-alone services and as part of what he and Texas health officials hope will be a $70 million expansion of state-subsidized primary care.

“I’ve debated this in Republican clubs with people — people who say it’s not the government’s role to provide family planning,” said Dr. Deuell, a primary care physician. “Ultimately, they’re right. But you have to look at what happens if we don’t.”

The health agency’s numbers, while alarming to some state lawmakers, are not unexpected. Last legislative session, while lawmakers debated the cuts, the nonpartisan Legislative Budget Board estimated that they would lead 284,000 women to lose family planning services, resulting in 20,000 additional unplanned births at a cost to taxpayers of $231 million. The cuts passed anyway, a price that socially conservative legislators were willing to pay in their referendum on Planned Parenthood.

The question now, with Planned Parenthood largely off the table, is whether there will be the political will to restore money for birth control, which has increasingly found itself lumped with abortion in Republican debates about family planning.

Asked whether Gov. Rick Perry would support returning money to family planning programs, his spokeswoman Lucy Nashed left the door open. “Last session the Legislature had to prioritize,” she said, speaking of the state’s budget woes.

“Every two years we take a fresh look at our resources and our needs.”

Bish’s second article continues to underline what it costs Texas taxpayers if they eschew the efficiency of the former highly effective Planned Parenthood system of contraceptive services.

Fiscal Conservatism, Texas Style? Texas Family Planning Program Now Serves Fewer Clients for More Money
Reality Check
Published: November 30, 2012

Texans are now getting far fewer family planning services at a higher cost than ever, according to documents submitted to the Department of State Health Services council this week. Just 75,160 low-income clients received publicly-funded family planning services in fiscal year 2012, compared to 211,980 in fiscal year 2010. That was before conservative Texas lawmakers slashed money-saving family planning funds in their 2011 legislative session.

That means Texas is spending more money—about $37 per person—to serve fewer than half the clients it saw two years ago.

This is fiscal conservatism? This is good money management?

This is Texas.

As Jordan Smith at the Austin Chronicle reports, a new funding matrix barred specialty family planning providers—the matrix targeted Planned Parenthood, the most efficient provider of family planning in the state—from receiving Title X family planning money and privileged funding for Federally Qualified Health Centers, which are far less cost-effective than other providers.

But there’s hope: a coalition of reproductive health care providers in Texas is taking a new tactic when it comes to the state’s drastic family planning cuts and attempts to push Planned Parenthood out of the Medicaid Women’s Health Program: they’re going to apply directly to the federal government for Title X (family planning) grant money. If they get the funds, they state health department and the Texas legislature will no longer get to play politics with women’s health. Reports the Texas Observer:

If the coalition wins the federal grant—called Title X (Title 10)—a slice of Texas’ family planning money would no longer go to the state health department—and would no longer be subject to the whims of the Legislature. Instead, the coalition, organized by Fran Hagerty of the Women’s Health and Family Planning Association of Texas, would distribute the money to family planning providers statewide, including perhaps Planned Parenthood, and restore services to tens of thousands of Texans.

Coalition leader Hagerty told the Observer she wants as many health care providers as possible to sign on to the grant proposal to ensure their funding if they’re successful. Planned Parenthood hasn’t publicly said it’s part of the coalition, but it has been a major target of state lawmakers and bureaucrats who’ve been working to ban it from participating in the WHP.

If the state continues to mismanage its family planning funds–what little it has to work with, thanks to Republican lawmakers–and see such a steep decline in services provided to the low-income Texans that need them the most, Texas can likely look forward to more Medicaid-funded births and higher costs overall for taxpayers.

If Texas conservatives want to save money and reduce abortions that result from unwanted pregnancies, the numbers show that they’re doing everything wrong.

Well, there you have it. Demonstrating the capacity for ideological folly again. Apparently, these Perry type Texas legislators have a moral compass which denies that sex will occur in or out of wedlock, with or without contraceptives, in or out of adequately qualified to be parenting, and at a cost which the Gutmacher research has long proven is the most effective money any government can spend to cut its expenses.

Alas, their naivete about human sexuality or their revulsion with giving women basic human rights reminds me of a limerick which cites an not unusual event in a small town on lower SF Bay, Milpitas.

There was a young girl from Milpitas
Who thought she would try coitus
But a fullback from State made her period late
And now she has athlete’s foetus

Perhaps Governor Perry and his ideological sycophants have now received a valuable wake up call to such mundane truths about sex and its direct relationship to the cost of governing. But will they restore Planned Parenthood to its effective pre-attack role? Don’t hold your breath.

Former US Navy officer, banker and venture capitalist, Donald A. Collins, a free lance writer living in Washington, DC., has spent over 40 years working for women’s reproductive health as a board member and/or officer of numerous family planning organizations including Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Guttmacher Institute, Family Health International and Ipas. Yale under graduate, NYU MBA. He is the author of From the Dissident Left: A Collection of Essays 2004-2013.
Population Media Center was founded in 1998 by William Ryerson, with the intention of using the extensive experience of experts in entertainment-education to spread the application of the Sabido methodology in addressing population and reproductive health issues. In the fourteen years since PMC’s inception, the organization has been a pioneer in the use of new methodologies for informing people about reproductive health issues and promoting behavior change.

The Battle Over Family Planning in Texas: Fertile Ground (Part 1 of 6) – Measuring the Effects of the Family Planning Budget Cuts

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