A bill that would prevent taxpayer dollars from going to abortion providers or their affiliates led to hours of testimony against Planned Parenthood at a committee hearing Monday.
The House State Affairs committee heard House Bill 1929, introduced by state Rep. Candy Noble, R-Allen, and dozens of Texans testified in favor of the bill — or, more specifically, against Planned Parenthood. The bill was left pending in committee.
“This bill seeks to protect Texans from being forced to pay for abortions with their tax dollars,” Noble said at the hearing. “While measures have passed in each of the last several legislative sessions to prevent state funds from going to the abortion industry, the existing prohibitions do not impact transactions made by political subdivisions of every level of government. HB 1929 will prohibit tax dollars at both the state and local levels from being used to fund abortion providers and their affiliates.”
Noble said the bill would not apply to abortions that take place for medical emergencies.
Some of the testimony focused on the Planned Parenthood center on E. 7th St., which does not provide abortions. Stephanie Hayden, director of Austin Public Health, said the location served 5,000 people in 2017.
“Planned Parenthood has been at this location for over four decades,” Hayden said at the hearing. “It’s a known provider in the community for providing comprehensive health care services. They provide an array of services, (including) breast and cervical cancer screenings, pregnancy preventing, treatment of sexually transmitted infections and education.”
Hayden said the majority of the people served at the Seventh Street location are well below the poverty line, and if this location closes, other clinics will not be able to provide for all of the patients.
“Austin is very fortunate to have really good providers,” Hayden said. “However, the current system of providers doesn’t have the capacity to absorb these services if we lose (this location).”
Melanie Salazar, president of Students for Life at UT-San Antonio, said she supports HB 1929 because she believes abortion is “inherently evil.”
“Abortion is not a simple removal of cells,” communication junior Salazar said at the hearing. “I believe that these procedures are absolutely horrible, and I don’t want the state of Texas to have their hands in these facilities that provide such procedures.”
Salazar said there are other organizations that can provide support to pregnant mothers without providing abortions.
“I would want the state of Texas to reallocate the money to federally qualified health centers and or pregnancy resource centers that offer women real choices, that empower women to choose life,” Salazar said. “I believe that empowered women empower women to choose life, and that is what I want as a woman, as a minority, as a young college student who is targeted by Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry.”
In a statement from Planned Parenthood Texas Votes, executive director Yvonne Gutierrez said Texas politicians are repeating past mistakes in attempting to cut healthcare access.
“What we saw at the Capitol today is legislators putting politics before the health and rights of their constituents,” Gutierrez said. “In the state with the highest uninsured rate in the country, where access to women’s health care has already been decimated by politicians, local governmental entities should be making every resource available to the community — not eliminating them.”