Texas defunds Planned Parenthood

On Monday, June 27, Texas became the largest state to defund Planned Parenthood. The legislature passed an omnibus health bill that, among other things, will stop the flow of state money to the nation’s largest abortion provider. Lucy Nashed, spokeswoman for Gov. Rick Perry, said, “The governor continues to champion the protection of unborn life in Texas.”

And so he does. Gov. Perry recently signed into law House Bill 15, also known as the Sonogram Law, which requires abortionists to point out features of the fetus to the mother before the abortion and offer her a view of the ultrasound. Because many women go into an abortion thinking of their baby as a “clump of cells,” even those women who decline to look at the sonogram image will be told that their baby has a heartbeat, a head, arms, legs, hands, feet. The truth will save many lives.

Of course, it’s also possible women will sign an acknowledgement form, one of many, before the procedure, never having actually ultrasound3been given the information. But the Sonogram Law is a start, and we take what victories we get, knowing each one may save at least one precious life.

These victories in Texas are not small. Texas already has its own sort of happy notoriety as one of the more conservative and prosperous states in the Union. Often associated in the minds of Americans, for good or ill, with George W. Bush, oil money, and an in-your-face brand of rugged, gun-toting individualism, it makes sense that my home state would be among the first to do what we hope many will do: stop forcing taxpayers to pay for other people’s elective abortions.

In response to news of the defunding, which is expected to be signed into law by Gov. Perry soon, social networking sites were flooded with hyperbolic rants such as the following:

“So much for cheap healthcare for women in Texas!”

“Now where will women get affordable birth control in TX? I sure hope all those pregnant teenagers choose adoption!”

“Rick Perry proves yet again he is not pro-life, he is anti-woman and anti-health care!”

And so on.

Of course, those of us who pay attention to facts know that this maneuver on behalf of the Texas legislature does not kick Planned Parenthood out of Texas. Would that we could! But no, it only stops the flow of state money to the organization.

Funnily enough, the people who screech that PP is the only place for women to get cheap healthcare – which is not true  – don’t seem to understand that other affordable women’s health clinics, even those that provide abortions, could probably manage to become better known if they had anywhere near the budget PP has. We’ve been giving them about $100 million in federal funds per year, and their revenues are in the hundreds of millions. They must spend a good portion of this on PR, because I see their magazine ads every once in a while, and I rarely look at magazines.

As for the contention that PP is actually in the business of providing cheap birth control and healthcare, and that abortions are a sad but necessary service they would rather not provide… Well, it’s hard for me to hear that without laughing out loud. Like Carol Everett and other abortion industry whistle-blowers have told us, birth control pills – usually low-dose – and condoms – usually cheap – are given to young people because abortion providers know eventually they will fail. The only surefire way of avoiding pregnancy is abstinence from sex, and you will never hear PP advocating such a thing. No, we must break down a young woman’s natural modesty, fill her purse with Trojans and little pink compacts, tell her these things will keep her from getting pregnant, and then pat her hand and offer to “help” when she does get pregnant.

Indiana recently became the first state to defund Planned Parenthood, eliciting a strong response from the federal government.  As other states follow in Indiana footsteps, the battle to defund PP is also becoming an interesting states-rights issue.

A friend of mine who has been heavily involved in the pro-life movement as a social worker for many years recently told me that if pro-lifers and anti-lifers were divided geographically the way they were during the struggle for – and against – the abolition of slavery, she could see it leading to another Civil War. But such is not the case. We’re all mixed in together for this fight. However, states with pro-life legislatures and conservative majorities may find themselves locked in a struggle against the federal government for the right to decide for what their citizens should and should not be compelled to pay.

A couple years ago, I overheard two middle-aged career counselors in a public college – one black man, one white woman – discussing taxpayer funded abortions. “People may not like it,” said the black man, “but it’s the law. You gotta do what the law says.”

I couldn’t help but shake my head at the irony of a black man saying this. One hundred and fifty years ago, individuals broke the law to save his forefathers from slavery, torture, and death.

Just because something is legal doesn’t mean it is right. Slavery is as old as humankind, but as we grew into a more moral, civilized society, we did what had to be done to eradicate it from our civilization. Now we have the opportunity to do the same thing with abortion, and the good people and lawmakers of states such as Indiana, Wisconsin, and Texas, must not back down from the inevitable fight.


UPDATE 7/12/11: Kyleen Wright at Texans for Life Coalition was kind enough to point out an interesting fact about the Sonogram Law of which I was not aware. In her words: “Just know, Kristen, that unless abortion advocates prevail in the courts, that sonogram HAS to be displayed where she [the mother] can see it – something we fought very hard for, even as we were attacked by friend and foe alike for it.”


Kristen Walker is Vice President of New Wave Feminists. Her personal blog can be found here.

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