Since the Texas Legislature took the first bold steps to defunding Planned Parenthood in 2011, anti-Life activists have insisted disaster was inevitable. According to Planned Parenthood’s friends in the media and academia, Texas’ decision to exclude Planned Parenthood from the state family planning program would result in an increase in the number of unintended pregnancies and abortions. The alarmist headlines continue. Yet, an examination of the data shows that not only has the rate of abortions decreased significantly in Texas since 2011 but the rate of unintended pregnancies appears to have decreased as well.
When Texas leads the way in Pro-Life policies, the stakes are high. As Michael New notes in a recent article for TribTalk, Texas has a large, ethnically and economically diverse population. When Pro-Life policies succeed, other states are eager to follow. Anti-Life activists recognize this and want to undermine the positive results of sound Pro-Life policy in order to discourage other states, and the nation, from adopting similar measures. Predictably, this has led to a drumbeat among anti-Life academics and talking heads. We have seen article after article decrying supposed terrible results of defunding Planned Parenthood.
What do the facts show? The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) maintains records of abortions and births, and these records are available to the public on the DSHS website. Based on this comprehensive and readily available data, we know that the anti-Life obsession with Texas’s “failure” is fabricated. For six consecutive years ending in 2014, the most recent year for which complete data is available, the abortion rate in Texas has fallen to a new low. As Michael New demonstrates, if you follow the logic of the anti-Life activists and their contention that defunding Planned Parenthood would lead to unintended pregnancies, the simultaneous drop in the number of abortions would mean a spike in the birth rate across the state. This is hardly the case. Despite the fact that abortions continued to decline, the birthrate remained steady, increasing marginally from 14.7 to 14.8 per one thousand in the population. Thus, if abortions continued to decline and the birthrate did not rise significantly, we can infer, as Michael New suggests, that the rate of unintended pregnancies also decreased in the years since Texas defunded Planned Parenthood.
Spreading this information is vital to combatting the lies of anti-Life activists. The facts disprove their argument that we are obligated to fund Planned Parenthood. Michael New notes an illustrative example of an analysis predicting a public health crisis that has never been updated with the actual, unalarming results. Texas Right to Life has repeatedly responded to similar anti-Life writers who insist vaguely that Texas Pro-Life policies have resulted in “some” unintended pregnancies without including any hard facts.
All anti-Life activists writing fundraising pitches for Planned Parenthood fail to note that Planned Parenthood is the largest abortion business in America. Planned Parenthood is not a comprehensive women’s health clinic; they do not even provide mammograms. The abortion executives at the head of Planned Parenthood are the only people who have excluded the organization from receiving public funding in Texas. At any time, the business could choose to stop committing abortions, expand rural outreach to underserved areas (which the abortion chain has ignored in favor of lucrative, urban abortion mills), and become a reputable health organization. However, as a business that ends the lives of more than 320,000 preborn children every year, Planned Parenthood does not deserve one cent of fungible taxpayer dollars.
When Texas legislators defunded Planned Parenthood, they did not leave Texas women without healthcare. In recent years, Texans have made women’s health a priority, creating and continually expanding the Healthy Texas Women Program and the Texas Pregnancy Care Network. When women in our state have access to high quality healthcare, we will never mistakenly believe that we must send them to an abortion business pretending to provide health services.