OP-ED on Women’s Health Plan
Since joining the Texas Senate in 2003, I have been a consistent advocate for family planning services for low-income women. Beyond that, I have strongly advocated for using those dollars to provide complete and comprehensive medical care that goes beyond basic family planning. Many women accessing family planning have other medical issues and nowhere to go. Comprehensive primary care can be provided for essentially the same amount of funding. This would be good stewardship of tax-payer money and provide better services to those in need. Many family planning providers, including Planned Parenthood, have been unwilling or unable to change to this comprehensive model.
For this reason, and the inherent conflict of interest of an abortion provider providing family planning services, the majority of the Texas Legislature and the citizens of Texas do not feel any abortion provider or their affiliates should be allowed to have tax dollars for family planning. Hence, the efforts to defund Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers and give that money to providers who are willing to provide comprehensive care.
Texas was perfectly willing to continue the Women's Health Program under that stipulation, but the federal government, through the Department of Health and Human Services, refused. Our commitment to the women of Texas and the WHP was continued without federal assistance, despite the increased cost to the state.
These efforts have been criticized for a variety of reasons including the increased cost (for lack of federal funds) and because some feel , erroneously, the new network of providers will be inadequate.
The pressure from some has been for the Texas Legislature and Governor Perry to capitulate and allow Planned Parenthood to participate in the WHP. Short of a court order (Planned Parenthood has filed suit), this will not happen. Planned Parenthood could solve this problem immediately if they stopped doing abortions and commit their clinics to comprehensive care for the women of Texas, just as we have done in the Texas Legislature.
Bob Deuell, MD
Member of the Texas Senate