At a Senate Health and Human Services committee today, state Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, named a subcommittee to address family planning funding. State Sen. Bob Deuell, R-Greenville, will serve as the chair and state Sens. José Rodriguez, D-El Paso, and Robert Nichols, R-Jacksonville, will be members. The subcommittee will take up Senate Bills 575 and 585, both calling for the renewal of the Women’s Health Program, and Senate Bill 1854 by Deuell. Deuell has been leading the effort over the last decade to shift family planning funding from facilities like Planned Parenthood to clinics that provide more comprehensive care, like community health centers.
In committee today, conversation about Deuell’s effort arose as senators heard Senate bills 575 and 585. Both call for the renewal and expansion of the Women’s Health Program, a Medicaid waiver set to expire this year that provides low-income women with birth control and other preventative care. Texas Right to Life and Texas Alliance for Life told senators they oppose the renewal of the program if Planned Parenthood is allowed to receive funding, saying that the program would be yet another “funding stream to the abortion industry (However, current state law bars entities that perform abortions, even if they also provide birth control, from receiving any government money). Still, Nelson expressed her concern for access to care should Planned Parenthood be eliminated from the program.
“I have a strong feeling it’s possible” to address both concerns, she said.
Deuell definitely has his work cut out for him.