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While Cutting Family Planning Funds, Texas Lawmakers Divert Millions To Crisis Pregnancy Centers

Photo: N/A, License: N/A

Photo: N/A, License: N/A

In essence, CPCs are—oftentimes not clearly labeled—anti-choice centers, functioning with the mission to deter women from abortion. Historically controversial, CPCs have come under heavy criticism for misleading women when it comes to facts about abortion and its effects. Usually Christian-affiliated and functioning under the umbrella of a national anti-choice group like CareNet, Heartbeat International or Birthright International, CPCs are known to proselytize and conflate religious belief with educational information.

And taxpayers are picking up the check.

Of the more than 100 crisis pregnancy centers in Texas, about 30 receive more than $36 million in state funding combined.

A ‘Disheartening’ Investment

With one hand making drastic slashes to women’s health care and creating unprecedented obstacles to abortion access, the other hand of the Texas Legislature this session quietly increased funding for CPCs, bringing their state tab up to $5.15 million in 2014, from the $4.15 million designated for 2013. Created during the 2005 Texas Legislative session by former state Sen. Tommy Williams (R-Woodlands), the Alternatives to Abortion program diverted $5 million away from Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funding—federal welfare subsidies meant to assist low-income, struggling households—and into Alternatives to Abortion, a statewide program for “pregnancy support services that promote childbirth.” Under the budget rider, the fund recipients are prohibited from referring their clients to any group that provides abortion or from associating with any organization that provides abortion. In later years, legislators redirected money from the family planning budget to pay for the Alternatives to Abortion program.

Since then, lawmakers have steadily funneled more than $36 million away from family planning and preventative women’s health care and into the Alternatives to Abortion program. According to general appropriations figures, from 2009 to 2013, Texas legislators consistently upped the dollar amount CPCs receive, setting a financial record this past legislative session. Over the next two years, CPCs will see an additional $10.3 million in taxpayer money from the state budget.

Comparatively—with the exception of a slight increase from 2009 to 2010—legislators have chipped away at family planning funding since 2006, notably slashing $74 million, or two-thirds, of family planning dollars from the budget in 2011, in a move aimed at punishing Planned Parenthood, which offers abortion-related information in addition to a host of other women’s and reproductive health services. Those cuts left some 147,000 women without access to basic reproductive health services and led to the closure of more than 50 family planning clinics—the majority of which were not Planned Parenthood—according to ongoing research conducted by The Texas Policy Evaluation Project at The University of Texas at Austin. Today, an estimated additional 26 state-funded (therefore, already prohibited from offering abortion care) clinics have ceased operations. Slicing further into the depleted funds, in 2012 the state declined $30 million in federal Medicaid dollars to keep Planned Parenthood out of a crucial preventative heath program geared toward low-income women.

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