Despite boasting the highest rates of cervical cancer in the country and a 40 to 50 percent rate of poverty in female-headed households, Texas Governor Greg Abbot has signed a proposal that will significantly decrease the number of facilities providing affordable cancer screenings.
The bill, which was drafted early this year and signed Saturday, will slash Planned Parenthood’s funding for breast and cervical cancer screenings for low-income women. That may leave the 3,000 Texan women who received screenings at a Planned Parenthood center within the state last year without a clear health care alternative.
“It’s 2015 — a woman living in Texas should be able to access basic health care,” said President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America Cecile Richards in a press release Saturday. “Governor Abbott has a clear vision for Texas — and it leaves women out in the cold. We have a different vision for Texas, one where women are able to receive the health care they need — no matter what.”
The proposal has received significant backlash from women’s health advocates and grassroots organizations, including a group of activists who have been picketing in front of the governor’s mansion for the majority of the month. The protest was first started by Sadie Hernandez, a 20-year-old activist who has sparked a social media campaign against the bill.
— Sylvia R. Garcia (@SenatorSylvia) June 20, 2015
Abbot’s decision falls perfectly in life with the state’s longstanding interest in targeting Planned Parenthood and affordable health care options for women. In 2012, Governor Rick Perry decimated funding for the Texas Women’s Health Program, the state’s family planning mechanism, by 90 percent in order to avoid funding any organizations that also provide abortion services. And earlier this month, a panel of judges upheld a 2013 state law that will slash the number of abortion clinics in the state down to 9 or 10 by July 1 — a devastating contrast to the 41 clinics that existed in the state just three years ago.
The health care crisis has not gone unnoticed by everyone in the state legislature. Earlier this month, State Rep. Sarah Davis (R) warned that women will die if Texas continues working to defund Planned Parenthood.
There have recently been fights over funding for reproductive health care at the national level, too. House Republicans released a budget proposal last week that would dismantle the Title X program, which has provided funding to a network of birth control, HIV screening, and other reproductive and family planning service providers since 1970. This proposed cut sits beside proposed decreases in funding for the Affordable Care Act, as well as “several provisions to protect life,” which includes the continuation of funding restrictions for abortion services.
Katelyn Harrop is an intern with ThinkProgress.