Over the weekend, Planned Parenthood teamed up for a rally with defeated gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis to protest a Pro-Life budget amendment that eradicated Planned Parenthood from lifesaving cancer screenings to low-income women across the state. On Saturday, Governor Greg Abbott signed the entire budget from the 84th Session of the Texas Legislature, including four Pro-Life amendments into law.
Anti-Life rhetoric surrounding opposition to the amendment has been adopted by mainstream media outlets, perpetuating the false notion that “women will die” when Planned Parenthood becomes ineligible to conduct taxpayer-funded cancer screenings on September 1st, 2015. In reality, Planned Parenthood created an uproar over what they called “cuts to women’s health care,” when the only actual cut is to Planned Parenthood’s bottom line. The fearmongering rumor that women will die – or lose access to health care – with the introduction of a stronger Pro-Life budget is patently false. But we know that Planned Parenthood and their ilk bear no scruples about blatantly lying when their lavish tax funding is so much as threatened. Last week, for example, Latina Magazine reported:
If the budget is approved, Texas’ Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening program would prevent Planned Parenthood patients from accessing lifesaving cancer screenings. As mentioned in a statement from the women’s health organization, there are some communities, including Waco, where Planned Parenthood is the only place people can go for that type of care, leaving them with no place else to visit for affordable screenings.
This statement suggests that Planned Parenthood clients can only access health services provided at Planned Parenthood. This, obviously, is not true. The BCCS is a large network of cancer screening providers, and Planned Parenthood only accounts for a small fraction of the cancer screenings that have been provided to Texas women. In fact, Planned Parenthood only runs 23 of the 314 clinics in the Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening Program. As for the statement that some communities will be totally bereft of cancer screenings without Planned Parenthood (creating the bogus impression that the Texas legislature has forsaken the health care needs of certain groups of Texas women such as working-class Latinas), the amendment specifically addressed the disparity of providers and provides accordingly. The amendment states:
If the department is unable to locate a sufficient number of eligible providers in a certain region, the department may compensate other local providers for the provision of breast and cervical cancer screening services.
Translation: Contrary to the rhetoric of Cecile Richards, no woman will be left behind by the Texas Pro-Life budget. Indeed, a Pro-Life budget that abandoned the needs of mothers would not be Pro-Life at all. Although Planned Parenthood and abortion proponents trumpet doom-and-gloom about the future of health care for Texas women, the Texas Legislature continues to improve the state’s programs for women.
This year, of the $154 million appropriated for the Women’s and Children’s Health Services program, the legislature carved out $23.6 million for cancer screenings provided by the BCCS. Until now, BCCS was never allotted exclusive funding in a stand-alone program. Previously, BCCS was financially included as a service provided in a spectrum of broader Women’s Health initiatives. Exclusive of the other, both the BCCS specific carve-out, and broader Women’s Health Initiatives that include BCCS as part of an array of primary and preventive care are now funded separately. Likewise, women’s health services received another $100 million through an appropriation of expanded Primary Health Care. In total, Women’s health services received an additional $119 million between the Women’s Health Program, and Health and Human Services Commission, respectively. Texas’ Pro-Life values go hand-in-hand with our pro-woman values, and those are generously represented by the newly approved Texas state budget.
The media attention and increased protesting about the bill have nothing to do with the existence of a real threat to women’s health care in Texas. Instead, the skewed storylines and protestor jargon have everything to do with Planned Parenthood’s audacious attempt to capture your tax dollars. No matter what.